How The “Trap Neuter Return” Method Saves Stray Cats Around The World

It’s no secret that stray cats have become an issue not just in the U.S. but around the world. Utah State University estimates that there are some 600 million cats worldwide, many of them being stray or feral.

One major issue with feral cat populations is their impressive ability to procreate and take over local ecosystems.

Photo: Pexels/Davina

The university explains, “[Cats] become sexually mature as early as 6 months of age…A single female may produce as many as 3 litters each year…with the capacity to successfully raise as many as 12 offspring in any given year. With this potential to increase in population, the number of stray and feral cats in an environment can quickly overwhelm the natural resources by increasing competition with native predators and depleting populations of local prey species.”

Animal lovers, conservationists, and government organizations have been trying to come up with a solution to the feral cat populations for decades and one successful method has been the TNR method, which stands for Trap, Neuter, Release.

Photo: Flickr/Christina Rutz License: CC BY 2.0

My small hometown in Northern California used to be overrun with feral cats. As kids, we’d go down to the beach to feed kittens and there was an abundance of cats for adoption through individuals and local shelters and rescues. Over the past 20 years, though, the feral cat populations have all but disappeared thanks to a successful TNR program. There are no more beach kittens, and no strays looking for homes. The rescues seldom have kittens for adoption. The program was a massive success, and that success isn’t unique to my town.

Renowned cat expert Jackson Galaxy recently put out a video doing a deep-dive on TNR programs and how important they are.

Photo: Pexels/Aleksandr Nadyojin

Not only have TNR programs shown to minimize stary populations, but they can also help reduce the number of cats being killed with euthanasia in shelters each year.

In the video, Galaxy explains:

“[In] Kentucky…they really embraced this model with Louisville Metro Animal Services. Once this model of TNR was adopted over an eight-year period, here’s what they found: A combined total of 24,697 cats were trapped sterilized vaccinated and returned over an eight-year period. During this time, admissions to the shelter dropped by 42.8 percent, and here’s the kicker: Euthanasia of cats by Louisville Metro Animal Services declined by 94.1 percent. Those are pretty staggering numbers.”

Photo: Pexels/Aa Dil

While the programs are a success, positive efforts can be hampered by poor policy or lack of education. As Galaxy touched on in his video, two elderly women were recently arrested and convicted in Alabama for performing TNR on public property (with is a legal practice).

According to CBS News, the women were convicted of trespassing (on public property, which is not illegal) and disorderly conduct (which is not demonstrated in the bodycam footage). The women have appealed the sentencing and plan to sue the city if necessary.

TNR programs are a huge help to communities and should be celebrated and prompted. To learn more, check out Galaxy’s full video on the topic below:

People, Pets & Planet

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