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Here are the basic concepts for TNR:
Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) is a full management plan in which stray and feral cats already living outdoors in cities, towns, and rural areas are humanely trapped, then evaluated, vaccinated, and sterilized by veterinarians. Kittens and tame cats are adopted into good homes. Healthy adult cats that are too wild to be adopted are returned to their familiar habitat under the lifelong care of volunteers.
Your best course of action is to start feeding and, as soon as possible, begin a Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program to trap, vet, and sterilize all members of the colony. Getting feral cats to a veterinarian for spaying or neutering and a general health evaluation is the single most important thing a caretaker can do for them. This is how a caretaker turns a feral cat colony into a managed colony, whose members can live safe, healthy, sterile lives without the dangers and hardship of constant breeding.
Before you begin to trap and sterilize the colony or colonies you care for, take time to learn exactly what TNR entails.
The most basic steps are in the name:
• “Trap” means to humanely trap every feral cat in the colony or colonies you care for.
• “Neuter” means to take the cats in their traps to a veterinarian or veterinary clinic that works with feral cats to be spayed or neutered, evaluated, vaccinated, and treated with ped meds if needed.
• “Return” means to care for the cats through recovery from surgery. Then take them back to their established homes.
The unnamed fourth step in TNR is to provide the cats with long-term care and feeding; in other words, to continue what you are already doing.
To begin implementing TNR, determine what cats you want to sterilize and line up the resources to do it. The steps are:
1. Count how many cats are in the colony or colonies you plan to TNR. Start now to keep records on the cats.
2. Locate and learn how to use the equipment needed to humanely trap.
3. Establish a relationship with a veterinarian or a veterinary clinic that will work with feral cats. In our area, there are several excellent low-cost clinics. These clinics will not only provide great service but do so at greatly reduced prices. And, they work with and welcome feral trappers.
4. Ask friends, neighbors, or other cat advocates to help. Determine how you (and others) will care for the cats before and after surgery, and on an ongoing basis.
5. Now you are ready to trap, neuter, and return the cats.
In conclusion, a well-organized TNR program can be implemented with ease. If trapping initially feels awkward, be assured that it will soon become a skill you perform readily, perfecting your technique with each experience. By then you will be ready to demonstrate trapping to others. Every time you assist in sterilizing a colony, you will have the satisfaction of knowing you have helped more feral cats live safe, healthy lives without reproducing.