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Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR)

What is Trap-Neuter-Return that SCOOP advocates?


Though we often use the term “feral cats,” the cats roaming the streets are often not feral at all. A better term for these cats is “community cats,” or “free-roaming cats.” These terms encompass not only feral cats that have never been socialized to humans, but also stray cats (cats that have either been lost or abandoned and are friendly, even if somewhat shy). All community cats can contribute to unwanted litters of kittens if they are not spayed/neutered.


SCOOP advocates the proven technique of TNR for breaking the cycle of reproduction and humanely reducing the free-roaming cat population. TNR is a program that allows outdoor community cats to continue to live outdoors after being humanely trapped, spayed/neutered and vaccinated by a veterinarian and returned to the neighborhoods or barns where they came from to enjoy their natural life. Often, young kittens are made adoptable through rescue organizations.

Eighty one percent of Americans believe that leaving a stray or feral cat outside to live out its life is more humane than having the cat caught and killed. Euthanasia at animal shelters is the number one documented cause of death for cats in the United States. It costs more taxpayer dollars (three times as much) for the cat to be trapped, held, killed, and disposed of at the county shelter than it does to humanely trap, sterilize, vaccinate, and release the cat back to its outdoor home where it's provided food and water by caretakers. The breeding stops, nuisance behaviors of unspayed and unneutered cats stop, and disease and malnutrition are greatly reduced.

Where do community cats live?

These cats live in yards, parks, barns, college campuses, deserted buildings, near restaurants, in apartment or condo developments, etc. Where there are food sources and shelter, there are cats.

How many community cats are there?

In the United States, it's estimated that there are between 60 to 100 million community cats.

Won't these wild cats carry rabies?

Rabies is overwhelmingly a disease of wildlife such as raccoons, bats, skunks, and foxes. Cats are not a primary vector of rabies. From 1990 to 2006, only 38 people died from rabies in this country, and not one was contracted from a cat.

What about wildlife, such as birds, that cats kill?

Cats are not the cause of wildlife depletion—humans are. Studies show that the overwhelming cause of wildlife depletion is destruction of natural habitat due to manmade structures, chemical pollutions, pesticides and drought.

Does trap and remove work as well as TNR?

"Trap and kill" does not work. Where there are food sources, community cats establish territories. If you remove the cats in that area, then more cats quickly move into the area, called the "vacuum effect." These unsterilized cats will breed. Colonies of cats will remain relatively stable and when all of the cats are spayed/neutered in those colonies, that means no more kittens.


Who does TNR?

People from all walks of life are assisting with this compassionate solution—doctors, teachers, lawyers, business owners, police officers, construction workers, etc.

What about the diseases being spread by these outdoor cats?

House cats and community cats contract feline AIDS and leukemia at the same rate—about 4%. They  cannot spread these diseases to people, or to other animals.

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