What is TNR & Why Do We Need It?
The best way to help community cats and kittens is through TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return). TNR is the humane and effective approach for stray and feral cats. Scientific studies show that TNR improves the lives of community cats, improves their relationships with people living near them, and decreases the size of colonies. TNR programs end reproduction and stabilize colony populations. The behaviors and stresses due to mating (pregnancy, yowling, spraying, fighting) stop. And there are no new litters of kittens being born. Community cats gain weight after neutering and vaccinations help provide protection against infectious disease. Neutering also reduces the risk factors of FeLV and FIV, mainly through producing less kittens and less fighting among the males.
Outdoor cats in managed colonies live longer thanks to TNR. Neutered cats also roam less and there is less fighting over mates. Studies show that after neutering, cats in managed colonies were less aggressive and more affectionate towards each other.
One prominent animal rights organization claims that feral cats suffer “horrific fates” due to disease, injury, or human cruelty. These claims are based on isolated incidents and are not supported by scientific evidence. Feral cats live full, healthy lives outdoors; there is no reason for them to be killed in shelters.
TNR also provides an avenue for the treatment of minor injuries or humane euthanasia when necessary. It also helps get kittens and friendly strays out of the wild and into loving forever homes via rescue organizations and adoption programs.
Research from a 2006 study actually shows that of over 103,000 stray and feral cats examined in Spay/Neuter clinics in 6 states from 1993-2004, less than 1% needed to be euthanized due to debilitating conditions, trauma or infectious diseases. (Wallace, Jennifer L and Julie K Levy, “Population Characteristics of Feral Cats Admitted to Seven Trap-Neuter-Return Programs in the US”, Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery 8 (2006): 279-284).
Why Do We Need TNR?
It is estimated that only about 2% of community cats are sterilized. That is 2% of over 70 million community cats in the US. Community cats are prolific breeders, usually having more than one litter per year. While adult cats generally thrive in feral communities, kittens are much less likely to live. One study estimates that 75% of rural kittens die or disappear before they reach 6 months.