What is TNR?

Trap Neuter Return (TNR) is an effective and humane way to manage feral cat communities.

Cats are actually social creatures and typically live together in colonies. However, since females can have 2-3 litters and year and up to 8 kittens in each litter (not to mention the males are pretty much limitless), this means a single pair of cats and their babies could produce a staggering total of 420,000 kittens!

Yep. Mind-blowing, right?

TNR volunteers trap the cats in a colony and bring them to a vet to be spayed or neutered, vaccinated for rabies, and feline leukemia. One of their ears is ear-tipped as a signal to other rescuers the animal has been sterilized. Once recovered from their surgeries, the cats are returned back to their colonies to continue living – but with one important difference – the cycle of breeding is stopped!

In most cases, the colony has a caregiver. The caregiver, typically a volunteer, makes sure the colony is fed, monitored, and shelter provided.

Homes are found for kittens and cats that are friendly.

TNR accomplishes several wonderful things:

  • Colonies reduce in size over time
  • Nuisance behavior like, fighting, yowling and other noise associated with mating stops almost entirely
  • Unaltered males no longer need to spray to mark their territory
  • Cats are healthier and less likely to spread feline diseases.
There are times when we recover a nursing feral mama. In this case, the feral mama and kittens are placed with an experienced foster until the kittens are weaned. The mama and kittens are kept safe and fed with as little interaction as possible. Often the foster has to approach wearing kevlar gloves to feed and change the litterboxes! Once the mama weans the kittens, she is spayed and returns happily to her community while the kittens are socialized and adopted. 

Learn more about why TNR is the best way to reduce unwanted cat populations and the 7 Steps of TNR.n

Can feral cats be tamed?

Feral cats are not socialized to people. They can be socialized and bonded to other cats within their own community, but they do not have that same relationship with people. It is unlikely they will ever be socialized or can be adopted. They are typically not aggressive, but they will react defensively when they feel threatened. 

There are important differences between feral and stray cats. Cats that are within a community that appear friendly and are approachable are typically strays or have been dumped. They have likely lived indoors at some point and have been socialized to humans.

Maleficient, one of our feral mamas, is thrilled to return to her home after weaning her babies.

Cats of Davidson TNR Work

Cats of Davidson currently supports 5 feral cat communities in Davidson. Through both financial and food donations, we supply food to various volunteer caretakers who help to monitor these communities. We have successfully stopped the breeding cycle for hundreds of cats in the Davidson, Cornelius, and Huntersville areas. 

TNRing a feral cat community requires hours of placing and monitoring traps. The most difficult part can be scheduling spay/neuter appointments as most low-cost vets willing to work with feral cats are overwhelmed with need. Often we are only able to schedule fewer appointments than cats in a colony so it can take a period of time before we complete the TNR process for an entire feral community.

We are grateful for Snipwell Spay Neuter & Wellness Clinic, the Humane Society of Charlotte and Stand for Animals for supporting TNR work with low-cost spay/neuter options for Cats of Davidson and other rescue groups in our community.

Preparing for Trap Day
Traps set in Davidson
Successful Trapping Day
See the Tip? No more babies!
Kittens rescued during a TNR event
Feral mama