TNR Saves Cats!

Uno's Happy Endings Rescue is always busy helping animals in need. Lately we have launched a TNR program throughout Northeast Ohio to help control wild cat populations and prevent suffering to cats who aren't lucky enough to have wonderful, safe homes with people who love (and feed!) them.

TNR stands for TRAP - NEUTER - RELEASE and is a highly effective concept: wild cats are trapped safely and humanely in large cages. The cages are baited with tasty food, placed in an area known to be patronized by local community/feral cats, and supervised to ensure safe entry into the trap. Once a wild or feral cat is trapped, they are taken to a local spay and neuter clinic to be vaccinated and spayed or neutered.

This concept benefits both communities and wild cats by controlling populations - a spayed or neutered cat cannot give birth or get female cats pregnant. This helps prevent even more wild or feral cats from being born into dangerous neighborhoods were cars, dogs, and unsupportive humans are a major threat to their safety.

Altered cats also prevent more cats from moving into the area by claiming the "territory" surrounding their habitat. Usually feral or wild cat colonies are cared for by a member of the community or shelter volunteers.

What is a "feral cat"?

Feral cats are cats that have been born outside, or who have spent the majority of their lives living outside away from human contact. These cats are not "disease-ridden" or "aggressive" as many people portray them to be. They are simply victims of overpopulation, or the result of a once-abandoned pet. These cats have had little to no experience with humans and maintain a natural fear of human contact. Feral cats living in a colony of in a neighborhood are commonly refered to as "communtiy cats" and pose a very beneficial presence in their area. They control rodent populations, prevent disease spreading throughout the cat colony, and prevent unaltered wild cats from encroaching into that area and populating further. In fact, trapping feral cats and returning them once altered is far more cost effective to taxpayers as the alternative is usually euthanasia which bears no benefit.

How do I become involved in TNR?

Anyone can easily become involved in this wonderful program. Many shelters, veterinary clinics and even some wildlife removal companies will loan out humane traps to citizens wanting to neuter or spay their community cats. Once you have a humane trap and a veterinary clinic who can do the surgery, you can get to work baiting the traps and staying nearby - although out of sight - until a cat is trapped.

Trapped cats need to be transported to the veterinary clinic of your choice immediately after trapping. Do not leave a trapped cat unsupervised for ANY period of time as the fear and panic they may experience can cause them to injure themselves inside the traps. Cats trapped by nuisance animal removal companies sometimes spend days outside without food, water or shelter, totally exposed to the rain, wind or blistering heat in a small cage. Many cats trapped by these companies are cruelly killed by drowning or blunt trauma so please NEVER call a nuisance animal removal company for assistance with feral cats.

Feral cats can not live off of hunting alone, so a caretaker residing in the area should be appoiinted who can keep food and clean water out for the cats. Shelters can even be made easily out of styrofoam coolers that protect the cats during harsh weather and winter.

Fees to have cats spayed or neutered using TNR usually cost between $15 - $50 dollars depending on the clinic you use. Cats are also vaccinated to protect disease spread, and have their ear notched to denote they have been trapped.

I care for a feral cat colony, and many of the cats have ears that are partially removed or "tipped", What does this mean?

Cats with partially amputated ears, or "tipped" ears are cats that have been trapped and neutered or spayed in the past. The ear "tip" is found on the left ear, and is a universal sign that "This cat has been neutered, spayed and vaccinated already". If you trap a cat with a TIPPED EAR, release it to the area it originated from. Altered cats should never be trapped unless the animal is sick - relocating cats causes them a lot of stress and can cause starvation or dehydration if the animal cannot find sufficient food and water in the new area.

Is there any followup care after the surgery?

Feral cats that have been spayed or neutered are given 24 hours to recover from the effects of the anesthetic. Pain medication is given that affects the cats' motor function and ability to think clearly, and cats that are released too soon are at risk to be hit by cars or attacked by animals when they stumble into the road or into yards It is best to keep the cat in his or her trap, in a dry, warm and safe place for 24 hours. Many people use sheds, garages or basements. It is important during this time to not give the animal an opportunity to escape, as it is very difficult to catch a feral cat running throughout your home! Each time a cat is exposed to trap it develops an awareness of the trap and makes catching it in the future, nearly impossible. Once 24 hours has passed, you can take the trapped cat back to the area you caught it and release it away from roads and dangers. If the cat cannot be released into the same area you caught it in, try to contact local rescue groups for ideas on where to take the cat. Unless the area is extremely dangerous to the cat, it is best for everyone if it is returned.

If you would like to learn more about TNR, feel free to contact us for help and suggestions. There are a number of experts willing to help you manage feral cat colonies so it is worth reaching out.


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