What is TNR?
TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) is a humane and effective approach to reduce the feral cat population. It involves trapping feral cats, getting them spayed/neutered and vaccinated, and returning them to the location where they were trapped, so that they can continue to live outdoors without reproducing. Colony caretakers provide food and winterized shelter to help the sterilized cats to survive in their environment. Cats that have been TNR’d receive an ear tip during their spay/neuter surgery so that they can be identified as sterilized. Friendly, stray cats and kittens that are found during TNR projects can be taken in and re-homed.
Why is TNR important?
The primary benefit of TNR is the reduction in the number of kittens born outdoors to feral cats, who are at risk for disease, malnutrition and injury. Cats who are TNR’ed are healthier because they are protected against disease through vaccines and because of the health benefits of spay/neutering, including reduced risk of certain cancers. Females no longer have to go through constant cycles of pregnancy (an unspayed female can give birth to as many as 3 litters in one year) and males are less likely to roam after neutering. In addition, problems of cat fighting, noise, and spraying are greatly reduced among cats who are TNR'd.
Another big benefit is that reducing the population of feral cats through a humane approach, fewer cats are killed in city shelters. TNR has helped to reduce the euthanasia rate at NYC’s Animal Care and Control.
How many feral cats live in New York City?
There are no reliable statistics about the numbers of feral cats in New York City, but by some estimates there are tens of thousands. There are over 2,000 colonies of feral cats in one city-wide database managed by a TNR organization in the city, and that just includes colonies that have been registered by colony caretakers. Clearly, the problem of cat overpopulation is big!
What can I do to help feral cats?
The biggest way that you can help feral cats is to get involved in TNR. There are lots of resources online and in the NYC community to help you learn about TNR and how to care for feral cats in your neighborhood.
- Alley Cat Allies is a national organization dedicated to advocacy and education about feral cat care.
- The NYC Feral Cat Initiative offers TNR certification workshops throughout New York City. After completing the workshop, you can access resources to conduct your own TNR project, including free spay/neuter through the ASPCA, trap loans, transportation for cats and traps, and further education and support. Infinite Hope volunteers help to teach some of these workshops.
- Neighborhood Cats is a NYC-based organization that conducts TNR workshops and provides extensive online education about TNR, including tip sheets, downloadable materials, and videos.
You can also volunteer to assist with Infinite Hope’s TNR projects. We work throughout Brooklyn and are happy to provide support and training to new volunteers!