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Trap-neuter-return (TNR) can make a real difference in your local community. It’s the only proven method to humanely and effectively control the free-roaming cat population, and it often directly reduces a community’s euthanasia rate by lowering the number of births and reducing intake into already-crowded shelters.
If you’re considering starting a TNR program in your community, one of the first steps is to find other like-minded individuals who embrace the TNR concept.
You may see them feeding free-roaming cats at parks or apartment complexes, or you may find them buying cat food at your local PetSmart. Talk to workers at local animal shelters and members of cat rescue groups to see if they’re interested, too. Also, check out the HSUS’ list of feral cat organizations to see if one is operating in your area.
The next step is to find a spay/neuter clinic or private veterinary clinic that will provide low cost or discount spay/neuter for free-roaming cats. You can find one by checking out the spay/neuter locator that PetSmart Charities funded with the ASPCA. Talk to local veterinarians and try to find one who is willing to help.
Finally, do your homework so your group becomes the TNR expert in your community. Learn the nuts and bolts of trapping and caring for free-roaming cats. There are many good online resources, such as the Neighborhood Cats website, where you’ll find a free, downloadable handbook, instructional videos and more, or Alley Cat Allies. Be ready to explain how TNR plays a critical role in reducing cat intake numbers at local shelters, how it can ultimately save taxpayer dollars, and how it improves the overall safety and image of a community.
Other ideas include:
When introducing your community to TNR, keep it simple. Consider selecting a well-spoken member of your volunteer group to be spokesperson, and keep the message factual and professional. Be prepared for some opposition — which is normal when new ideas are presented — but don’t be defensive.
Remember, you will be establishing your group as the local authority with a humane, cost-effective solution for reducing the number of free-roaming cats in your community, so always remain calm and courteous, but be persistent. It may take several meetings, and even several months, before you start to see the positive results of all your hard work. It may be helpful to build a relationship with a successful TNR program in your state or region to serve as a mentor to offer words of encouragement and advice.
For more details on how to start a TNR program in your community, listen to PetSmart Charities’ webinar, Feral Cats and TNR 101. Or, check out the following resources: