Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Feral Q&A: TNR

Q.  I know Trap/Neuter/Return (TNR) is supposed to be humane, but I worry about feral cats when they’re returned to the wild. How do they survive?

A. Understand that feral cats don’t thrive in the same situations that pets do. They've had limited to no human contact. They are very fearful of humans and that just isn’t going to change after they're more than six weeks old. The most compassionate thing you can do for ferals is to trap, vaccinate, sterilize and put them back in their familiar surroundings.

Whatever you do though, take care of them. Feral cats do depend on kind caretakers for a consistent source of food, water and shelter, along with veterinary care if they need it.

You may be concerned about your feral cats contracting one of the three major feline viral diseases: feline leukemia, feline immunodeficiency virus or feline infectious peritonitis. You’ll be relieved to know that studies find no increased incidence of these diseases in feral cat populations over domestic cat populations.

Plus, ferals fare much better after they've been altered. Once they are no longer searching for a mate, ferals tend to wander less and are less likely to fight and sustain injuries. They also don’t have to worry about pregnancy and nursing, which are very hard on female cats.

So, continue on with your TNR plans with confidence and practice responsible stewardship of your colonies. Your ferals should enjoy a pleasurable existence in a place they call home, while chasing butterflies and lying in the sun. 

Do you have a question about feral cats in your neighborhood? Send your question to 


  1. Do you have a list of people who may be willing to take on another feral to their colony? I have begun feeding a feral but cannot continue to do so and am a renter and cannot care for a feral or colony at this point in my life. I want to do right by this poor cat but feel there are few resources and little help available. Can you help?

    1. I know what you mean I have been dealing with this for 3 years..and get little help from the non profits that I have been I have just paid out $ 400 to a vet that was treating a very sick feral and now I am dealing with it since I cannot afford another cent...and now I cannot afford to feed the colony I am trying to get fixed since I ran out of money with the vet to top it all off my new landlord does not care for the cats and what I am doing to prevent more kittens showing up...If you find help let me know I could sure use it too...

  2. Hi there GineoReyes and Terri,

    If you are both in the Pittsburgh area, Animal Friends has a few programs that might offer some assistance to the two of you.

    Our Low-Cost Spay/Neuter program program has a feral cat package, including spay/neuter, rabies vaccination and eartipping, for $30 per cat. You can call 412.847.7004 to schedule the surgeries.

    Our Chow Wagon (a program that gives food and treats to local food banks) can offer some assistance with cat food. Please call our main shelter number and tell the receptionist you are a feral cat colony caretaker and need help feeding your cats. The receptionist will transfer you to whomever is there that day.

    We unfortunately do not have a public clinic here at Animal Friends for general vet care. The Animal Rescue League does however. Here is their clinic website:

    Hopefully some of this information helps you out. Good luck to you!

  3. You can also try and contact the Homeless Cat Management Team. (Website here: They might have helpful information for you or might have a caretaker that is willing to take additions to their colony.

  4. It's me again (Terri) and I live in California (Bay Area) and have some help from non-profit that gave me their password to use at the shelter that they get all there TNR ferals fixed...the reason they gave it too me is they wanted me to continue to Trap because they didn't have anyone too do it. Things have change since then and I now have a new landlord that took back the area I was using to hold overnight and recover the cats and has moved into the adjacent house on the property making it difficult to trap...she has even had one of her friends board up an opening under my place and trapped a cat under there...thank god I noticed when I went out too feed....I would have moved by now but I can't leave the cat's high and I feel trapped between a rock and a hard place...anyone got any ideas???

  5. Reabandoning cats that are trapped and could be brought to safety is cruelty. You cannot possibly provide the care and medical treatment that is necessary. Cats are domestic predators selectively bred by humans to kill. No domestic predator should be allowed to roam. Predators need a responsible owner. I am sick of the dead cats that I see along rt 40. This is completely irresponsible. TENVAC is a more humane solution where cats are contained for their safety, the safety of beneficial wildlife, private property rights, and human health. Living on a farm I see too many loose and dumped cats. We have ground nesting birds and bats here, which are crucial to the environment for keeping insect populations in check. It is irresponsible of anyone to allow feral domestic animals, which are also rabies vectors and carry toxoplasmosis, to roam freely. Contact the wildlife rescues in the Pittsburgh area and you will see the abundance of cat caught maimed animals that they have to euthanize. It is wrong to think that allowing a domestic predator to roam is saving lives. It destroys billions every year.