If you own or manage a community that has become overrun with stray and feral cats, you may want to consider humanely controlling the feline population as soon as possible. One dozen cats can reproduce and increase the feline population to as many as 2,201 in just three years. In five years, that number can grow to 12,680. As you can see from the astonishing numbers, it's a good idea to get control of the cat population in your community before it gets out of hand. Fortunately, there is something you can do about it—trap, neuter, return (TNR). Here's what you need to know.
Controlling the Population Growth
TNR is a program that was developed by the Humane Society and adapted by various organizations throughout the nation based on the different regional needs. The idea behind this program is to humanely reduce the feline population through sterilization and to improve the health of the population through vaccination. The cats are also microchipped, and one ear is cropped so they can be identified from afar as already having gone through the program. A Humane Society representative can put in you contact with various agencies that can help fund the sterilizations and vaccinations, if necessary.
The cats are trapped in humane traps, taken to a clinic where the various procedures are performed, then released in the same location where they were originally trapped. Kittens are taken by the local Humane Society and domesticated so they can be put up for adoption when they are old enough. Young adults and adults that have a mild temperament are also considered for domestication. Kittens and cats that are domesticated will also be spayed and neutered before they are put up for adoption.
Enlisting Cat Colony Caretakers
The feline population in your community is called a colony. To gain control of the colony, a small team of people who live within the community should become familiar with the program and with the cats in the colony. Ideally, the caretakers will be volunteers and cat lovers. These people will be caretakers of the colony. They can be responsible for setting the traps, transporting the cats, and releasing them after the procedures. Due to the natural calming effect of sterilization, some feral cats become friendlier to people they recognize. Also, vaccinations against diseases and rabies help to keep the cats healthy. That said, the cats in the colony could, essentially, become outdoor pets.
Choosing a Trapping Date
You'll need to choose a trapping date. To do so, however, you'll need to coordinate with a pet spaying and neutering clinic. Depending on the size of the colony, the clinic may need to block off several hours or an entire day to concentrate on your efforts. Your local Humane Society can send a representative to your community to determine the size of the cat colony, how many traps you will need, where to set the traps, and how often traps should be set.
Informing the Community
It's crucial for you and the caretakers to inform the citizens in the community about the program and the trapping dates so they can make sure their outdoor pets are kept safe indoors. Of course, social media can be used to spread awareness, but it's important to keep in mind that not everyone uses social media, especially the elderly. Therefore, you'll also want to inform the community by posting information about it in the local newspaper and putting posters up on telephone poles and bulletin boards. Take stacks of informative flyers to all local veterinarians so they can be made available to pet owners who visit their offices.
To learn more about spaying and neutering, contact an animal hospital like All Creatures Animal Hospital.