bryan kortis executive director headcat@neighborhoodcats org 212 662 5761 www neighborhoodcats org l.
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Bryan Kortis, Executive Director 212-662-5761 Trap-Neuter-Return An Introduction. What is “TNR”?. Feral cat management method involving: T rap members of a colony N euter (plus rabies vaccination & eartipping)

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bryan kortis executive director headcat@neighborhoodcats org 212 662 5761 www neighborhoodcats org

Bryan Kortis, Executive


An Introduction

what is tnr
What is “TNR”?

Feral cat management method involving:

  • Trap members

of a colony

  • Neuter (plus

rabies vaccination

& eartipping)

  • Return ferals to

original site

4. Long-term caretaking/monitoring

what is a feral cat
What is a feral cat?
  • A “feral” cat is unsocialized to humans. They originate from lost or abandoned cats.
  • A “stray” cat is living on his own, but remains socialized and adoptable.
what is a colony
What is a colony?

Feral and stray cats tend to live in groups centered around a common food source.

u s feral cat population estimates

U.S. Feral Cat Population Estimates

13 million in winter, 24 million in summer(Clifton, M., Where cats belong – and where they don’t, ANIMAL PEOPLE [June 2003] .)

50 million (Levy, J., Humane strategies for controlling feral cat populations [2004], Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Vol. 225, No. 9. )

60 to 100 million (Alley Cat Allies, Tracking Our Success [2005].)

feral cat overpopulation impacts
Feral cat overpopulation impacts:
  • Shelters &

animal control

  • Public health
  • Wildlife
  • Animal welfare
impact on animal sheltering control
Impact on Animal Sheltering & Control:
  • 50 million feral cats = 147 million kittens/yr = 82% of kittens born per year
  • Pet cats = 85% sterilization rate

Feral cats = 2% sterilization rate

Levy, J., Humane strategies for controlling feral cat populations (2004), Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Assn., Vol. 225, No. 9.

Kittens + trapped adults = rising:
  • intake & euthanasia rates
  • complaint calls
  • financial costs
  • opportunity costs
  • stress to workers
impact of feral cats on public health
Impact of feral cats on Public Health:
  • rabies
  • other zoonotic diseases (toxoplasmosis, cat scratch fever, etc.)
  • quality of life complaints (odor, noise, unsanitary conditions, dead kittens, property damage)
  • financial costs (investigation)
impact of feral cats on wildlife
Impact of feral cats on Wildlife:
  • Predation
  • Competition
  • Potentially devastating impact on sensitive ecosystems of rare species vulnerable to cat attacks

Alabama beach mouse

Piping plover

impact on animal welfare
Impact on animal welfare:
  • high kitten mortality
  • for adults - short average life span in unmanaged situations (cars, cruelty, disease, fighting, etc.)
what to do the choices
What to do? The Choices
  • Do nothing
  • Feeding bans
  • Trap & Remove (usually for euthanasia)
  • Sterilization & vaccination (TNR)
feeding bans fail because
Feeding bans fail because:
  • Unenforceable
  • Difficult to remove food sources
  • Cats remain in the territory & still reproduce
  • Malnourished cats lead to parasitic infestations & disease
trap and remove fails because
Trap and remove fails because:
  • Too many cats, not enough animal control resources
  • Caretaker resistance (when euthanasia is the outcome)
trap remove also fails because
Trap & remove also fails because:
  • “Vacuum effect” – new cats fill the void due to:

a) migration from other colonies to take advantage of available food source

b) reproduction and increased survival rate of untrapped cats (due to more available food)

  • Ongoing abandonment + lack of long-term monitoring
  • Synergistic effect of all these factors
fantasy solutions
“Fantasy” solutions:
  • Socialize/adopt – very difficult & time-consuming to socialize an adult feral
  • Sanctuaries – very few are well-run and many often turn into hoarding situations, plus there are too many cats
  • Cat licensing & leash laws – may or may not help reduce future inflow into the feral population, but don’t address the current problem
tnr advantages
TNR Advantages
  • Nothing else works
  • Volunteer manpower
  • Less costly if private sector involved
  • Caretaker cooperation
  • Long-term monitoring
  • No vacuums (esp. if TNR is widespread)
tnr addresses sheltering issues by
TNR addresses sheltering issues by:
  • Ending or limiting

reproduction (no more kittens!)

  • Colony size often reduced immediately through adoptions
  • Attrition reduces numbers over the long-term (fewer cats = fewer complaint calls)
tnr addresses public health issues by
TNR addresses public health issues by:
  • Vaccination for rabies
  • Spay/neuter eliminates or dramatically reduces noise, odor and roaming (= fewer complaint calls)
  • A community-based TNR program can mediate and solve common problems like property damage, cats in yards, etc.
tnr addresses wildlife issues by
TNR addresses wildlife issues by:
  • Reducing the

number of cats in the environment

  • Through cooperative problem-solving in situations involving rare, threatened or endangered species (e.g., New Jersey Feral Cat & Wildlife Coalition)
tnr addresses animal welfare issues by
TNR addresses animal welfare issues by:
  • Providing consistent caretaking, including food and shelter
  • Improved health through spay/neuter
  • Less roaming
  • Fewer kittens, who are the most susceptible to disease
does tnr work
Does TNR work?

University of Central Florida

- 155 cats on campus in 1991

- 23 cats in 2002 (85% )

Levy, (2003a), Evaluation of the effect of a long-term trap-neuter-return and adoption program on a free-roaming cat population, Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association222: 42-46.


Reece, J.F., S.K. Chawla (2006), Control of rabies in Jaipur, India, by the sterilization and vaccination of neighbourhood dogs, The Veterinary Record, 159: 379-383.

Jaipur, India

Nov. 1994 thru Dec. 2002, in target area:

  • 19,129 dogs TNR’ed
  • 65% female, 6% male sterilization level attained


  • Dog population 28%
  • Rabies cases zero in target area last 2 years of study; increased in other parts of Jaipur
newburyport ma merrimack river feline rescue society
Newburyport, MA (Merrimack River Feline Rescue Society)

- 300 cats on riverfront in 1991

- 1st year: trapped 200, adopted out 100, returned 100

- 100% sterilization in 1998

- 1 cat left today (35 feeders!)

- opened local shelter and spay/neuter clinic to address sources of ferals

NYC Feral Cat Database as of 7/24/08

(self-reporting by caretakers)

- 458 colonies with at least 1 TNR’ed cat

- 6141 cats reported at TNR Start Dates

- 4613 cats currently (25% )

- Average s/n rate = 67%

- 3183 cats & kittens placed for adoption (6.9 cats per colony)

other community examples
Other Community Examples
  • San Francisco – 1993 through 1999, TNR part of comprehensive program inc. s/n, adoptions: intake down 28%, euthanasia down 71% (including 73% for ferals)
  • Indianapolis – Oct. 2004 through Dec 2007, 10,000 feral s/n’s: intake down 37%, euthanasia down 29%.
  • Long Beach, NY – over 400 feral s/n’s since April 2005: intake down 62% in 2007 cf. 2005.
effectively managing feral cats cd dvd produced by the humane society of the us 9 99
Effectively Managing Feral Cats (CD/DVD) produced by The Humane Society of the US - $9.99
  • “Trap-Neuter-Return: How to Fix Feral Cat Overpopulation” – 16 min. policy DVD directed by Bryan Kortis
  • “How to Perform a Mass Trapping” – 32 min. DVD produced by Neighborhood Cats

3. “The Neighborhood Cats TNR Handbook: A Guide to Trap-Neuter-Return for the Feral Cat Caretaker” (pdf file)– manual authored by Neighborhood Cats

4. “Implementing a Community Trap-Neuter-Return Program” (pdf file) – manual authored by Bryan Kortis

print copies
Print copies
  • The Neighborhood Cats TNR Handbook (with VHS of “How to Perform a Mass Trapping”) - $24.99

  • Implementing a Community Trap-Neuter-Return Program - $9.99

online course
Online course

Trap-Neuter-Return: How to Manage Feral Cats (Humane Society University)

- authored by Bryan Kortis

- $50.00

- comprehensive colony care training, including trapping, feeding, shelter, community relations and more