Feral and Abandoned Cat Society

Cats & TNR

About Cats
Responsible Pet Ownership is Key!
What is a Feral Cat?
What is TNR?
How Can I Manage a Feral Cat Colony?

 Did You Know…?

  • That each year there are far more kittens born than there are homes for.
  • That only 1 kitten in every litter of 5 will live out its life loved and cared for.
  • That the remaining 80% will die of neglect, abuse, disease or be euthanized as “surplus” kittens.
  • That for those fortunate enough to be adopted, only 1 in every 3 cats will live out its life in that same home.
  • That the reproductive abilities of cats far exceed those of dogs.
  • That in a 7 year span
    • 1 female dog + 1 male dog = 2,000 puppies
    • 1 female cat + 1 male cat = 450,000 kittens (not all survive)
  • That prevention through neutering and spaying is the most humane and cost effective means of reducing cat overpopulation and the consequent misery of more “unwanted” kittens being born.
  • That you can make a difference in lowering the number of unwanted kittens, born only to die, by spaying or neutering your cats.

This chart represents an unspayed female cat, her mate and all of their offspring, producing 2 litters per year, with 2.8 surviving kittens per litter: 



Responsible Pet Ownership is Key!

One of the keys to reducing the homeless animal population is to be a responsible pet owner.

Please spay or neuter your cat so that they do not produce unwanted litters of kittens.

Once you have taken responsibility for a pet, it is dependent upon you to provide food, water, shelter and veterinarian care.   In the event that you are no longer able to keep your cat or provide for its basic necessities, please ensure that your cat is responsibly re-homed to someone who can.

No cat should be left behind!   A cat that has lived with humans will not fare well if left to fend for itself on the streets, where it will be exposed to the elements and potentially face starvation.  Furthermore, abandoning a housecat by dropping it off at a feral colony will put the cat at great risk of injury by other cats and animals.

What Is a Feral Cat?

A “feral” cat is a cat who has reverted in some degree to a wild state. They originate from former domestic cats who were lost or abandoned and then learned to live outdoors or in environments involving little human contact, such as warehouses, factories or abandoned buildings. In most cases, feral cats are not completely wild because they still depend on people for their food source, whether it’s a caretaker who comes by once or twice a day, a dumpster outside a restaurant, garbage cans, or the like. Relatively few feral cats subsist only by hunting.

To what degree a feral cat is wild depends on several factors. Foremost, is the age of the cat. Young kittens are more capable of being socialized and successfully re-introduced to domestic life than a feral adult. Another factor is what generation feral is the cat. A kitten born outdoors to a mother who was herself formerly domestic is likely to socialize easier than one born to a mother who is seventh generation feral. The extent of daily human contact also plays an important role in determining how wild a cat will be. If cats have regular interaction with people, such as in a community garden, they will tend to be friendlier and more approachable than if they live in a back alley where people rarely venture. Finally, there’s the wild card factor, which is the particular cat’s personality. It’s not unheard of for someone to tame an older, multi-generational feral who has been largely isolated from people, but this is the exception.

It’s important to recognize that if a cat is truly feral, then the most compassionate choice might be to allow them to live outdoors. Trying to domesticate them would be no different than trying to make a squirrel or a raccoon a household companion – you might succeed somewhat, but never fully and only with a great deal of time and patience. Moreover, you would not be permitting the animal to live in a manner that suits him best. Many well-meaning people, convinced they are “saving” a feral cat by bringing him indoors, end up condemning the poor creature to a life of hiding under the bed and being in constant fear.

Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) respects a feral cat’s wild state. The neutering of the ferals prevents tremendous suffering and shields the cats from the hostility their behavior might otherwise draw from human neighbors. But the return of them to their own territory and the providing of adequate food and shelter gives them the opportunity to live among their own, to be free and to answer to their own unique natures.

What is TNR?
Trap-Neuter-Return, commonly referred to as “TNR,” is the only method proven to be humane and effective at controlling feral cat population growth. Using this technique, all feral cats in a colony are humanely trapped, spayed or neutered, ear-tipped and then returned to their territory where caretakers provide them with regular food, water and shelter. Sick and injured cats are humanely euthanized when it is advised by a veterinarian. Young kittens who can still be socialized, as well as friendly adult cats, are placed on waiting lists for intake and eventual adoption through foster-based rescue volunteers and the SPCA shelter.


Trap Ear Tipped Cat
This is a humane live trap used for TNR Through TNR, cats are ear-tipped by a veterinarian to indicate that they have been spayed or neutered.

TNR has many advantages. It immediately stabilizes the size of the colony by eliminating new litters. The nuisance behavior often associated with feral cats is dramatically reduced; including the yowling and fighting that come with mating activity and the odor of unneutered males spraying to mark their territory. The returned colony guards its territory, preventing unneutered cats from moving in and beginning the cycle of overpopulation and problem behavior anew. The cats also continue to provide natural rodent control.

Another significant advantage to TNR is that, when practiced on a large scale, it lessens the number of kittens and cats flowing from the streets into the local SPCA. This results in increased adoption of other cats in the shelter.

TNR is not just the best alternative to managing feral cat populations – it is the only one that works. Doing nothing leads to an overpopulation crisis. Trying to rescue the cats and find homes for all of them is unrealistic and unattainable given their numbers and the futility of trying to socialize most of them. Trap and remove/kill is simply ineffective. If all of the cats are not caught, then the ones left behind breed until the former population level is reached. Even if all the cats are removed, a phenomenon known as the “vacuum effect” results in new unneutered cats moving in to take advantage of whatever food source there was, and the cycle starts again. This explains why more and more animal control agencies and municipalities are willing to try TNR.

The TNR approach recognizes that there is a new balance in our urban and rural landscape, one that includes feral cats. It seeks to manage this new population with enlightened techniques that allow the cats to live out their lives and fulfill their natures, while minimizing any possible negative impact.

How Can I Manage a Feral Cat Colony?

Basic steps

So you’ve decided you want to help the colony of feral cats in your neighborhood. What do you do? The process of Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) offers the greatest chance of success both for you and the cats. TNR involves trapping the cats in a colony, getting them spay/neutered, tested for feline illnesses (if the tests are affordable) and ear-marked for identification, then returning the ferals to their territory. A caretaker provides food and shelter and monitors for any newcomers or other problems in the colony.

At its essence, TNR is not about rescuing cats, it is about population control and permanently reducing the number of feral cats in an area. It’s not about getting a wonderful cat a great home; it’s about creating better, less hostile environments for the cats. In addition, spay/neuter of the cats eliminates common nuisance behaviors such as yowling and foul odor, and helps to manage the rodent population.

If you want to undertake a TNR project in your neighborhood and care for a managed colony, here’s an outline of the basic steps to be taken:

1. Educate Yourself
First start by learning all you can about TNR. There are a variety of materials available through the internet, and the local FAACS trapping volunteers have a great deal of experience that can be shared.
If you live in the CBRM area, we recommend you attend one of our monthly meetings in order to meet our trappers. They can arrange to take you on a ride along and show you how to set the traps, transport the cats, keep the cats in holding prior to their trip to the veterinarian, and provide instructions for post-care and return of the feral cats to their colony.

2. Build Good Community Relations
In tackling your feral cat colony it is of paramount importance that you build good community relations. Unless the cats live in some remote setting, you must take their human neighbors into account and try to build positive, harmonious relations. A supportive, cooperative community will make your work considerably easier, while a hostile or uninvolved one will make it far more difficult.

3. Set Up Feeding Stations and Shelters
There are many benefits to beginning to manage the colony as soon as possible. Start by setting up a feeding station. By arranging a regular feeding schedule, you will train the cats to show up at a certain place at a certain time, and you’ll be able to withhold food and get them hungry when you want. This will make trapping much easier. Improving the cats’ nutrition by improving the quality of their food will better prepare them for the stress of trapping and neutering. Adequate shelter also promotes their health and assists in locating them.


Photographed in North Sydney in November 2012, this feral cat has been provided with food, water and shelter.

4. Secure an adequate holding space for trapping and neutering
Depending on the size of the colony, trapping all of the cats may take several days to several weeks, as some cats can be elusive. A space is needed to hold the cats that are trapped until they can be transported to the veterinarian, and a space is also needed for them to recover for 24- 48 hours following surgery. While they are confined, the cats remain in their traps – the traps are cleaned and the cats fed preferably twice a day. To learn how to do this safely, one helpful reference is “Caring for Cats Held in Traps” on www.neighborhoodcats.org.

It’s best to keep the cats in a secure holding space, protected from the elements and heated in cold weather. It could be a basement, a garage, an extra room, or a terrace using a tarpaulin, tent or lean-to. One word of warning, during warmer seasons fleas can be a concern in indoor holding spaces. To minimize the risk of infestation, keep the traps covered with light cloths and either flea bomb or vacuum thoroughly afterwards.

5. Decide what to do with kittens and friendly adults
It is important to decide what to do with kittens and friendly adults before you start trapping, and when you still have time to prepare. Ideally, adoptable cats and kittens will be removed from the colony and placed in good homes. Decide before you catch them who is going to do the fostering and how you’ll go about adopting them. You can, for example, work with a traditional rescue group. If fostering or adopting resources are simply not available, don’t let that stop you from getting the cats neutered and halting the reproduction cycle. You’ll have accomplished a great deal of good by that alone.

6. Arrange for spay/neuter
FAACS can assist you with making an appointment with a local veterinarian clinic where discounted rates have been negotiated for our organization. Only appointments made through FAACS will be paid for by FAACS and receive our discount.

7. Trapping
Trapping is the last step. Too often, well-meaning people trap first and think about what to do with the cats later. That’s a recipe for disaster (we know, we’ve tried it!) To ensure the long-term success of your project, and to minimize the problems you will need to deal with, you should ensure that everything else is in place before you put the tuna into the first trap. This is true whether you’re trapping one cat at a time, or the entire colony.

A few days after being released, the cats will return to their usual routines and you to yours. Although caring for feral cats is an ongoing effort, and the dangers they face are ever present, there is a strong sense of satisfaction in knowing you’ve prevented a great deal of suffering and have given the cats a better chance to live in a way that suits them and is acceptable to your community.

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    Cats Helped

    Total number of cats that have received veterinarian care through our programs.

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