Trap-Neuter-Return: Everything You Need to Know


According to the Humane Society of the United States, there are up to 40 million community cats throughout the country. It’s estimated that stray cats have 1-2 litters per year. Over the course of nine years, one unaltered female cat can create up to 11 million cats.


How do we control this massive number of stray cats? 

Many people believe euthanizing stray cats will do the trick. This means ending the lives of millions of felines. Although cat overpopulation produces some negative effects on the environment, there is a better way of controlling the stray cat population in the United States.

TNR, meaning Trap-Neuter-Release, is the most effective way to control the feral cat population. TNR is when stray cats are humanely trapped, spayed or neutered, and then released back to the same location where they were found.

Why should cats be returned to the same location once they are spayed or neutered?

It’s important to return the cats to the same location they were trapped in otherwise the “vacuum effect” may occur. This is when an area is cleared of cats, opening up the area for more cats to come in and utilize the resources the former occupants were using. Ultimately, this creates a larger cat population than before.

Why is TNR more effective than euthanasia?

Euthanizing cats contributes to the “vacuum effect” mentioned previously. By implementing a TNR strategy to control the stray cat population in an area, it prevents other cats from taking over the territory of the cats that were euthanized, preventing the population from going up. Additionally, euthanizing stray cats is inhumane when an option exists to let them continue living their lives as usual.

Why do some people think TNR ineffective?

Some people think there is a better process waiting to be discovered. TNR can be costly and stray cats can quickly catch on to what traps are, making it difficult to catch them. It also takes a while for the impact of TNR to become evident.

How can people get involved in TNR?

There are three easy ways you can support TNR efforts:

  1. If you have stray cats in your area or want to help effectively reduce the stray cat population, reach out to your local rescue groups and animal shelters to find out if they have a TNR program. Ask if they need help with their efforts so you can get involved directly.
  2. If you aren’t comfortable trapping cats, TNR organizations are always accepting donations. Consider donating money, cat traps, food, towels, or any other supplies they may need.
  3. As with any cause, raising awareness for TNR is a great way to get involved. Since many people have never heard of the process, educating people can help motivate changes in the way people view the stray cat problem in the United States.