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What is TNR?

Updated: Jan 25

Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) is a non-lethal, 3-step humane method to reduce and manage the number of feral and stray cat population both immediately and in the long term. The practice of TNR enables feral cats to live their lives without adding to the overpopulation of homeless cats.


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Animal lovers in neighborhoods all across the world provide food, water and shelter for community cats, and TNR provides a non-lethal, humane way to effectively manage these community cat populations. In some programs, friendly cats or young kittens are pulled from the colonies and sent to foster facilities like ours for socialization and, eventually, placement into forever homes.

Controlling the breeding and removing some cats for adoption is more effective than the traditional trap-and-kill method in lowering the numbers of cats in a community long-term.

If you’ve noticed an outdoor cat with a part of his ear missing – just the top of the left ear—that’s the sign of a cat who is healthy and cared for! An eartip is the universally recognized symbol of a cat who has been spayed or neutered and vaccinated. Eartipping is a standard part of most Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) programs, because it’s simply the best method to let everyone know at a glance that a cat has gone through a TNR program.

Benefits of TNR include:

  • Stabilizing feral cat colonies. By reducing the population of outdoor cats, we also reduce the number of cats euthanized by local animal shelters

  • Improves cats’ lives. When males are neutered, they are no longer compelled to maintain a large territory or fight over mates, and females are no longer forced to endure the physical and mental demands of giving birth and fending for their young

  • Protects cats’ lives. Spay/neutered outdoor cats live much healthier lives than unaltered cats. Outdoor cats who have been sterilized and live in a colony that has a caretaker, have longer lifespans than unmanaged outdoor cats.

  • Reduces shelter admissions & operating costs [fewer community cats in shelters increases shelter adoption rates, as more cage space opens up for adoptable cats]

  • Decreases nuisance complaints Sterilizing community cats reduces or even eliminates the behaviors that can lead to nuisance complaints.

  • Works—other methods just don’t. Removing one set of cats from a location where food and shelter is available creates a vacuum for a new set of cats to fill

Step 1 – Trap: Feral or stray cats are trapped using a safe, humane, live trap.

Step 2 – Neuter: Trapped cats are spayed or neutered by a veterinarian.

Step 3 – Return: Fixed cats are returned to their home.

Further Reading:

TNR in NYC Workshops | Neighborhood Cats

About TNR & Community Cats | Bideawee Feral Cat Initiative

Colony Care | Feral Cat Initiative


Support our rescue labour!

Shop or Donate to give a hand with our TNR mission.


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