The Truth About Trap-Neuter-Return

Wednesday, April 8, 2015
Myths and facts about a process that saves community cats

free-roaming catSpaying and neutering pets is crucial to ending euthanasia in shelters. For pets with an identifiable owner, like a pet parent or shelter, the procedure is the owner’s responsibility. But for free-roaming cats, or community cats, that's a problem because nobody owns them. 

41% of cats in U.S. shelters are euthanized — that’s 1.4 million cats every year. And since more cats than dogs are euthanized, homeless kittens and cats are more at risk of euthanasia. Many of those kittens and cats are from free-roaming cats.

Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) is a proven method to help save cats’ lives. The process is simple: free-roaming cats are humanely trapped and taken to a clinic for spay/neuter surgery. They receive an eartip — a small snip of the tip of the left ear — as an indicator they’ve been fixed. Many clinics will also vaccinate the cats at the same time. Then, they’re returned to the area where they were found.

TNR is known to prevent hundreds of thousands of litters each year, yet many misconceptions about the process still exist.


Myth: Community cats are a nuisance, even after TNR

Fact: Fixing cats stops bad behaviors

Any cat — whether feral, stray or owned — who is not spayed or neutered is likely to engage in unwanted behavior. For example, an unfixed female cat may cry loudly at night when she’s in heat. An unneutered male may spray unpleasant smells to mark his territory. 

These behaviors either disappear or greatly diminish after cats are fixed, making them much better neighbors.

Fact: Fixed cats roam less

Spaying and neutering can also reduce a cat’s desire to roam. A cat who roams less is less likely to be seen wandering your neighborhood.

There is still a chance these cats may appear in your garden or yard, but there are ways to deter them from stepping on your property.


Myth: TNR puts unhealthy and suffering animals back on the street

Fact: The majority of community cats are healthy and disease-free

One study found that of more than 100,000 cats brought to spay/neuter clinics, more than 99% were healthy enough to safely undergo the procedure. 

Fact: TNR improves the cats’ health

Spaying female cats protects against illnesses, including tumors and infections. Neutered male cats don’t fight each other over potential mates, preventing bite wounds and other fight-related injuries. Many TNR programs also vaccinate cats to further protect their health.


free-roaming catMyth:  Eartipping is cruel

Fact:  Eartipping is painless

The universal sign of a spayed or neutered community cat is an eartip. While a cat is anesthetized for surgery, a veterinarian or veterinary technician removes a quarter-inch tip of the left ear. The procedure is swift and painless.

Fact: Eartipping prevents unnecessary surgery

An eartip means a fixed cat can be identified from a distance. This efficient identifier can save the cat from being unnecessarily trapped and possibly operated on again. 

It also enables the people who care for the cats to quickly identify new felines who need to be trapped and fixed. It’s the only identification method that works.


Myth: TNR will never stop cats from killing wildlife

Fact: Cats are natural-born hunters, but the best way to protect wildlife is to have fewer community cats in the environment

If enough cats in an area are fixed and can no longer reproduce, their overall population will decline over time. 

Fact: The extent to which community cats hunt wildlife is under debate

Some conservationists blame cats for billions of bird and small mammal deaths per year while many cat advocates claim these figures are extremely exaggerated. 

When enough cats are fixed and their numbers gradually drop from natural causes, both the cats and the birds win.


It’s easy to help free-roaming cats in your community. You can get a complete blueprint for starting TNR by reading my book Community TNR: Tactics and Tools.


TNR Researcher

FACT: Trap & Kill failed because cats cannot be trapped faster than they exponentially breed out of control.

FACT: Trap, Neuter, & Re-Abandon (TNR) is an even bigger abject failure because these man-made ecological disasters cannot be trapped faster than they exponentially breed out of control, and they also continue to cruelly annihilate all native wildlife (from the smallest of prey up to the top predators that are starved to death), and the cats continue to spread many deadly diseases that they carry today — FOR WHICH THERE ARE NO VACCINES AGAINST THEM. Many of which are even listed as bio-terrorism agents. (Such as Tularemia and The Plague — Yes, people have already died from cat-transmitted plague in the USA. No fleas nor rats even required. The cats themselves carry and transmit the plague all on their own.)

FACT: Hunted To Extinction (or in this case, extirpation of all outdoor cats) is the ONLY method that is faster than a species like cats can exponentially out-breed and out-adapt to. Especially a man-made invasive species like these cats that can breed 2X-4X's faster than any naturally occurring cat-species.

FACT: THERE IS ABSOLUTELY _NOTHING_ HUMANE ABOUT TNR. Nearly every last TNR'ed cat dies an inhumane death by road-kill, from cat and animal attacks, environmental poisons, starvation, dehydration, freezing to death, infections, eaten from the inside-out by parasites, etc. And if very very lucky humanely shot to death or re-trapped and drowned (the two most common methods employed on all farms and ranches to protect their gestating livestock's offspring and valuable native wildlife dying from cats' Toxoplasmosis parasites). This doesn't begin to count the thousands of defenseless native animals that cats skin alive and disembowel alive for their daily and hourly play-toys. And pitting cat against cat to fight-to-the-death for territory is ABSOLUTELY NO DIFFERENT than those who run criminal dog-fight rings to see who wins. They spend YEARS in jail. IT IS A HIGHLY PUNISHABLE CRIME TO FORCE *ANY* DOMESTICATED ANIMALS TO FIGHT EACH OTHER FOR THEIR VERY SURVIVAL.

FACT: The only difference in destroying cats immediately and humanely instead of trapping, sterilizing, then releasing them to an inhumane death and forcing them to fight-to-the-death for survival; is that money isn't going into Becky Robinson's Alley-Cat-All-Lies pocket, or an HSUS or SPCA board-member's pocket, veterinarian's pocket, cat-food company CEO's pocket, or a drug-company CEO's pocket. And that's the ONLY difference! Support yet another organization that exploits and perpetuates the suffering of animals for their own personal financial gain, then try to sleep well at night.

FACT: These manipulative, deceptive, and deceitful TNR proponents are now clipping cats ears ONLY. WITHOUT vaccinations nor sterilizing them. They do this to save money and protect their outdoor hoarded cat colonies from being trapped and euthanized by the state because the clipped-ear shows officials that they have been sterilized and vaccinated. Why pay $140 for each cat and all that time when just a trap and a simple snip of scissors on each one can also protect their hoarded cats from being destroyed? (I have absolute proof of this.)

FACT: Cats are a man-made (through selective breeding) invasive species. And as such, are no less of a man-made environmental disaster than any other caused by man. Cats are even worse than an oil-spill of continent-sized proportions. They not only kill off rare and endangered marine-mammals along all coastlines from run-off carrying cats' Toxoplasma gondii parasites, they destroy the complete food-chain in every ecosystem where cats are found. From smallest of prey gutted and skinned alive for cats' tortured play-toys, up to the top predators that are starved to death from cats destroying their ONLY food sources. (Precisely what cats caused on my own lands not long ago.)

FACT: In _SEVENTEEN_YEARS_ Alley Cat ALL-LIES branch of NYC have only reduced feral cats in their own city by 0.08% to 0.024% (as the months go on that percentage becomes more insignificant), allowing more than 99.92% to 99.976% to exponentially breed out of control. Here's how Alley-Cat-ALL-LIES' deceptive math works: If you TNR 4 cats and 3 get flattened by cars this translates to 75% fewer feral-cats everywhere. Alley Cat ALL-LIES of NYC can't even reduce cats in their own city, yet they promote it as a worldwide solution. Then even bigger fools fall for it and promote it.

FACT: When researching over 100 of the most "successful" TNR programs worldwide, JUST ONE trapped more than 0.4%. Oregon's 50,000 TNR'ed cats (the highest rate I found) is 4.9% of all ferals in their state. Yet, by applying population growth calculus on the unsterilized 95.1% they will have trapped only 0.35% of all cats in their state sometime this year. Less than 0.4% is a far cry from the required 75%-85% to be the least bit effective.

FACT: Their mythical "vacuum effect" is a 100% LIE. A study done by the Texas A&M University proved that any perceived "vacuum" is just the simple case that CATS ATTRACT CATS. Get rid of them all and there are no cats there to attract more. I proved this myself by shooting and burying hundreds of them on my own lands. ZERO cats replaced them FOR FIVE YEARS NOW. If you want more cats, keep even one of them around, more will find you. That university study also found that sterilized cats very poorly defend any territory. Non-sterilized cats, being more aggressive, take over the sterilized cats' resources (shelter & food if any). If there is any kind of "vacuum effect" at all, it is that sterilizing cats cause non-sterilized cats to restore the reproductive void.

FACT: During all this investigation I have discovered something that is unfaltering without fail. Something that you can bet your very life on and win every last time. That being — IF A TNR CAT-HOARDER IS TALKING THEN THEY ARE LYING. 100% guaranteed!


Obviously, this misinformed "researcher" is a PETA supporter. It is unfortunate that so much time was spent writing these unproven claims. Do some real research before posting what is nothing more then your opinion.

Eva Ries

Yeah, that's the problem. The REAL scientists don't have the facts, but you do.

And you have this, how? By simply "deciding" that something you don't like simply "isn't true." don't like it.

Everything that person posted has been documented by real, actual scientists, not "activists" who spout opinions nor companies who make money off of people, like you, who shell out money to buy cat food for the cat population they want to see larger because it means more money for them (yeah PetSmart, I mean you).

Science isn't a matter of "believing" or not. You either understand it, or you don't. In your case, you're choosing to be stubborn and reject it because you otherwise don't have a defensible position. And that's more than obvious.


One thing I feel is important that has not been mentioned here. Most feral colonies that have been TNR'd have a colony manager who takes steps to ensure proper feeding, and appropriate shelter based on weather conditions.


I will rarely get into a discussion online like this because it is typically fruitless, but you are incorrect, and it's disturbing how passionate you are AGAINST people attempting to help cats and to help solve this crisis. As a veterinarian heavily involved in rescue and TNR, I can't imagine where you are getting your facts. I see this work for communities all through Ohio, and it scares me that people reading this article and the associated comments in an attempt to become better educated might believe what you have written. Please, please, please research this fully in an unbiased way and speak to the experts prior to posting any more on the topic. Thank you.


Looks like ol' Woodsman has changed his alias again. Same old, same old garbage coming from him. Ignore him. He won't go away so it's best not to even acknowledge his deep, mental disorder. My clinic has done 8,000 feral cat s/n's in the last 2 ½ years and intake at animal control has gone down 25% on kittens. We know it's working so keep up the good work everyone.


I just moved into a manufactured home in a park and much like in Trailer Park Boys, there are a lot of community cats. I have two with clipped ears that come over to eat. I'm more comfortable feeding these cats than others because I know they're most likely strays and nobody is going to get mad at me for feeding their cats. I also like knowing that I don't run the risk of kittens popping up next spring. I will never turn a cat or any other aanimal away who needs my help and I'm glad other people are helping them out by neutering them.


I must take issue with some of the claims on this page. Without a base number for comparison it is impossible to tell if TNR has any diminishing effect on feral populations. Your only reply to the impact on wildlife is that the claims of billions of wild animals killed is exaggerated. So even if is in the hundreds of millions, does that make it okay? The cats and the birds do not win. The cats will freeze or get eaten by a coyote or succumb to disease. A cat lives 4 times longer in a home than it does as a feral. In that time it will still be killing birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. There is no acceptable number of wildlife deaths due to feral cats. We would not even be discussing this is it were dogs....imagine millions of free roaming dogs trying to survive in the cities and forests. Instead of promoting TNR, why don't you be socially responsible and move towards managed colonies in a TENVAC system. If you spearheaded this...if you put as much resources into TENVAC, the value in saving cats AND wildlife to the community and your company would be immeasurable. All you have done is taken sides on a very controversial issue. With toxoplasmosis, rabies, typhus and now the plague....yes the actual North America being spread by cats, it is time to advance beyond TNR. The number of feral cats across the continent is rising...not falling. It's time for a new approach. Be ahead of the game and be the leader.


What is TENVAC?

Human Intervent...

Sure, let's get rid of all of the feral cats. That way, we can have an overpopulation of rodents that carry far more disease than cats.

TNR Researcher, you are clearly a radicalized person who does not have your head on straight. You probably think that any animal death that is not performed in a vet's office is an inhumane death. All animals in the wild die from one cause or another. That is the way it has been since life began, and that is the way it should continue. Interfering with the natural order of things is what has led to the near destruction of our ecosystem. Nobody wants to see a cute little kitty or puppy starving in the wild. The cold reality is that there will always be puppies and kitties dying in the wild, no matter what we do about it.


TNR Researcher has only done research to benefit his/her results!!!
Spay/neuter reduces the population. Cats DO control rodent population, AND they kill no more birds than any other cat population!!!
I do agree that outdoor animals die sooner than indoor pets BUT they don't necessarily die more painfully. ANY busy road is population control~~~~My neighbor has learned this more painfully than anyone else I know!!! HOWEVER, if they are spayed/neutered, they are less likely to die from attacks from other cats!!!!
They don't wander as much and they are less likely to be attacked by other animals because they are more grounded in the area they live......
I had more feral cats live a very long time because spay/neuter made hem less likely to roam, less likely to fight for dominance , and less likely to be attacked by other animals because they are NOT hunting!!!!! (yep, I feed them too)!!!!!
Y'all help by getting population controlled, then all the other factors sort themselves out!!!!

Janis Silveri Please read about the success of Operation Catnip in Florida.


You realize, of course, Rick that man and its exponentially increasing encroachment on natural habitats, is the biggest predator of birds.

Who me???

Man you opened up a can of crazies! All you have to do is throw the word cat out there and the nuts start falling from the trees! As If any of these replies make any sense. Perhaps you need to find a more selective site to discuss actual issues dealing with this very important topic.


TNR does make a difference. Over the past 5 yrs I've trapped 95 cats in the area around my rural home. I feed these cats every day but now I'm down to about 50 cats. So their number has declined in my area. Its been over 2 yrs since any kittens were born into the feral colony that I feed. And yes some of the cats that I provide food for still hunt. Thats the natural order of things so even with food provided you arent going to stop that completely. But TNR can work. Its a lot better than just letting them breed out of control. Or killing anything that moves.


Good Job! Sounds like those cats are lucky to have you. TNR(M) is a process that will take awhile to see the full impact. Rome wasn't built in a day after all.

Callie corrine

Trap and kill is what got Chicago, New York, LA and Philadelphia into the rodent and roach mess they hve been trying without nsuccess to fix for decades. As these cities became more urbanized and people brought their old wives tales and misinformation with them they ignorantly and stupidly killed off the predTors of rats and roaches leaving these pests to breed out of control. So much so that there is no possible way that they will ever get the current infestation under control. The nut leaving insane comments advocating for the death of all cats must own an extermination business. The big cities are completely dependent on these exterminators and their poisons that quite honestly do not accomplish much in terms of ridding the buildings and homes of unimaginable infestation issues. Do you know what that does to home values and one's health? What effect do you think inhaling those poisonous chemicals have on ones unborn child? Anyone who has lived on or near farms knows thT farmers are NOT killing cats! Quite the opposite. They use barn cats to control rodents and insects BECAUSE IT WORKS! Farmers have access to the same chemicals that exterminators have but they choose cats because cats and opossums are your best option for rodent and insect control. Cats keep their business outside of your home. Rodents and insects move right in and take over the home leaving their shit and piss all over your belongings, utensils, countertops, bedding, clothes.......

Chelsea Lyn Mathews

FACT: Humans. are more invasive and destructive than all other invasive and destructive species combined. The Earth was made for ALL if us, not some of us. Ironically, my local Petsmart knows of the feral cat colony behind their store, and do nothing to help. I do because I want to show some level of compassion and improve the quality of life to our fellow Earthlings. It benefits us all. Every life matters.


Most ferals that are TNR'd are managed by humans that make sure they are fed properly and have adequate shelter.




I'm think TNR Researcher is cat killer/psycho/feral cat obsessed troll Jim Stevenson. It would be best to ignore him/it


Yep, good ol' psycho aka The Woodsman. Let's not humor the poor boy but boy are his replies so stupid you have to laugh.

Page Williams

I am a lifelong domestic cat owner/lover. I also happen to love wildlife. Domestic cats belong indoors where they don't kill wildlife, including wildlife protected by the Endangered Species Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty, and don't spread zoonoses to wildlife/people/pets, not to mention annoy neighbors to the point of cruelty to the cat.

According to CDC, four times as many people get post-exposure rabies shots from cat contact as from dog contact - that's because we don't have managed feral dog colonies. Houston's animal control reported domestic short-haired cats as being third most frequent reported domestic animal biter - after pit bulls and German shephers - and medium-haired cats were tenth. CDC, as well as my city, county and state health departments recommend that, to protect your family from rabies, you call animal control to remove strays from your yard. Felines are the only vector for toxoplasmosis gondii, implicated in the deaths of marine mammals, and in spontaneous abortions of land mammals, including humans, as well as in human birth deformities. If you want to save/hoard an entire colony of cats, build an enclosure in your yard and put the cats in there, where they cannot harm others or be harmed by others. If you want a few loving pets, get a few cats and keep them in your house where they belong. Euthanasia, from the Greek for "easy death" is a gift that I give my beloved pets at the end of their life, and sure beats life and death on the streets or in a cage for any cat.

The University of Georgia has done excellent research on the kills of owned cats, using "kitty cams, from National Geographic ( Now they are using the same technology to study kills of feral cats. I am willing to bet that well-fed cats, either owned or colony, have more energy to kill more wildlife for fun than do unfed feral cats, who need to preserve their energy for survival - quite similar to humans, where the poor hunt to eat, and the rich hunt for trophies. Do cats/people/pets/wildlife a favor by getting all domestic cats off the streets ASAP.

Eva Ries

Every single claim made in on this opinion piece - as that's all it can be called - is factually inaccurate. There is not one of the "facts" that can be supported with real science which has been conducted by academically credentialed researchers.

Those who make claims about "what we did in my shelter" aren't credible namely because what they offer is merely anecdotal evidence from a one-time observation - at best. At worse, it's more misinformation by people with no scientific background who understand nothing about real data collection or research design, but think those of us who do should take their opinions with the same weight as all the scientists in The Smithsonian or other research facilities who have systematically debunked all the misinformation and claims made by Trap-Neuter-ReDump enthusiasts.

It's sad that a "charity" is lying to the public, writing up intentional LIES and MISINFORMATION so that they public will be conned into spending money to support outdoor hoarding and feeding....which, incidentally, increases PetSmart's profit margins. Funny how that works, huh.


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