What Is Trap-Neuter-Return?

Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) is a humane and effective approach for stray and feral cats, often called “community cats” because they don’t belong to particular humans. With trap-neuter-return (TNR), cats are caught in humane box traps, spayed-neutered and vaccinated, and returned where they were found to live under the eye of a watchful human caretaker who provides food, water, and shelter as necessary. TNR humanely manages feral and free roaming cats, while preventing the cats from breeding.

Cats that have been “TNRed” have their left ear tipped, which means the tip of one ear is clipped while the cat is under anesthesia. A tipped ear identifies a cat as having been spayed or neutered, and part of a managed TNR program.  Tipping safeguards them if re-trapped.

Studies have shown that TNR method improves the lives of feral cats, improves their relationships with the people who live near them, and decreases the size of colonies over time.  The method has been practiced for decades in the U.S. after being proven in Europe.

There are many reasons to embrace and promote TNR:

  • Stabilizes feral cat colonies, which diminish over time.
  • Improves cats’ lives by relieving constant stress of mating and pregnancy.
  • Answers the needs of the community by reducing neighborhood cat fights and yowling.
  • Protects cats’ lives by reducing euthanasia because there are fewer cats and orphaned kittens.
  • It works! Other approaches, like adoption or relocation, don’t because most feral cats can’t be easily tamed and if relocated, other cats move into the colony territory

SFACC’s partner, the San Francisco SPCA, spays and neuters San Francisco’s community cats, and vaccinates them before returning them to their outdoor homes. The SFSPCA also offers advice and assistance in managing community cat colonies. For more information about the SFSPCA’s TNR program, see Community/Feral Cats Program, or email communitycats@sfspca.org  or call (415) 522-3539.

Thanks to Alley Cat Allies and SFSPCA