What Is Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR)?

In 1999, three Manhattan neighbors, Bryan Kortis, Ruth Sharp and Shirley Belwood, each became aware of a vacant lot filled with feral cats and kittens. They soon learned there was little help available. The animal shelters were full, the cats were too wild to be adopted right away and all the rescue groups were already overwhelmed.

It wasn’t until another neighborhood resident, Anitra Frazier, author of The Natural Cat, introduced them to the idea of Trap-Neuter-Return that a plan became clear.

Photo: Flickr/AngelsNDragonflies

Over the course of the next year, the neighbors trapped the cats, often one at a time, and brought them to veterinarians willing to offer discounted spay/neuter services. The results were dramatic. The number of cats in the colony had been reduced, the neutering eliminated the odor and noise, the cats’ health improved and local residents became more tolerant of the felines’ presence.

Having witnessed how TNR could work in an urban area, Sharp, Belwood and Kortis decided to introduce the method throughout New York City, where at least tens of thousands of cats roamed the streets, and Neighborhood Cats was born.

Photo: Flickr/Ivan Radic

Before long, Trap-Neuter-Return became an accepted practice and a strong system of feral cat services developed. Training workshops were held on a regular basis, experienced trappers helped newcomers, local shelters and animal organizations offered more resources, and more and more feral cats were spay/neutered.

As information about TNR spread throughout the country, books were written, videos produced, wildlife teams were organized and Washington lobbyists approached.

Photo: Flickr/Kunal Mukherjee

Today, TNR is increasingly embraced as an essential component of any effort aimed at reducing cat overpopulation. Funding from foundations and municipalities is growing, feral cat nonprofits are springing up everywhere and can now gain the support they need to thrive and sustain their efforts.

The largest animal groups in the country, including The Humane Society of the United States and ASPCA, are firmly in favor of TNR. The introduction of TNR into the mainstream has been among Neighborhood Cats’ proudest achievements.

Photo: GreaterGood

But while TNR is now widely practiced across country, the cost of humane traps is also expensive for cash-strapped shelters. This reality led GreaterGood to partner with Tru Catch Traps, a humane cat trap company, to donate humane traps to shelters and rescue groups caring for feral community cats.

Please click here if you’d like to help support these efforts or learn more about this lifesaving project. With your help, we can make a big difference to the estimated 70 million community cats living rough across the United States. Thank you for helping animals in need!

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