Want to Get a Trap-Neuter-Return Program Started in Your Community?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Trap-neuter-return can make a real difference

A feral catTrap-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:

  • Host a public forum to find more volunteers.
  • Build a “trap bank” so interested caretakers of the cats can borrow the equipment they’ll need.
  • Organize a raffle, bake sale or other fundraiser to get donations and increase community awareness.

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 our recently completed 27-part Community Cats webinar series which covers all aspects of TNR. Or, check out the following resources:



Regina Shanks

I am a vet tech and I really want to start a TNR for feral cats in my area to cut down on the many healthy feral cats being put down. I need to know how to get started I work full time a vet clinic already . Thank You


I don't have a problem with cats at all. I have a problem with squirrels. I will feed them with squirrel poison if someone doesn't help me. They have eaten all my installation from my water pipes and now it's going to cost me money to replace to pay for more insulation so my pipes don't freeze in the winter.. Think I might be better having the burden of cats


I've helped with tnr but another county organization had to pay for it because my county doesn't have a tnr program. There are people working on one but don't have the tools or the backing of the county. The rescue here is trying as well. The problem we have is no vet will help with a low cost spay & neuter. What can we do to get vets on board?

Dee valoczky

Live in st Clair shores area. Would like to help Detroit's cats. Anyone out there??


Hi Dee, you should get in touch with your local animal welfare organizations. They'll have the best knowledge of the needs in your community, and they can advise you on how you can help.

Debbie Christian

I'm just wondering if there's any programs like that in San Bernardino


Hi Debbie, our friends at HSUS have a list of TNR resources you may want to check out. 


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