Resources

What is TNR?
TNR is the acronym for Trap Neuter Return, a comprehensive management strategy for humanely reducing populations of free-roaming domestic felines. TNR generally includes: assessment of colonies; humane trapping, maintenance with food, fresh water, and cover; and monitoring to assure that newcomers are altered immediately.


What is ear tipping?
While the cat is sedated following spay/neuter surgery, personnel snip about a quarter-inch from his or her left ear to identify the animal as a humanely managed free-roaming cat who has been altered and rabies vaccinated.

Where did these cats come from?
Domestic felines have been with humans for at least 10,000 years. Europeans brought domestic cats to North America as partners in rodent control. As human populations expanded and spread, so did those of domestic felines. Today, free-roaming domestic cats are found everywhere, from city streets to rural back roads. These populations originally resulted from pets who were not spayed or neutered and their progeny. Today more than 85 percent of pet cats are altered while only 2 percent of free-roaming cats are altered – so the vast majority of free-roaming cats come from other free-roaming cats who live behind restaurants and shopping malls, on industrial campuses, and in our urban and suburban neighborhoods.
What’s the difference between a free-roaming cat and a feral cat?
All ferals are free-roaming cats but not all free-roaming cats are ferals. To become truly feral (rather than feral- acting) takes multiple generations, without close contact with humans, for this domestic species to revert to a “wild” lifestyle. Most free-roaming cats in our region are not feral but are loosely “owned” outdoor pets such as barn cats or neighborhood cats, abandoned or lost indoor former pets, and their progeny. Because even a feral cat can become tame, the relative status of individual cats can change throughout their lifetimes. This graphic from The Feral Cat Project of Washington State shows how that works:

Isn’t the life of free-roaming cats so horrible that it’s better to kill them?
While risky, just like everyone else’s life, the life for a free-roaming cat doesn’t necessarily have to be a short and harsh one. Various studies have shown that humanely managed free-roaming cats can live at least as long as seven years and, in our experience, many animals live much longer. Other studies and observations have shown that free-roaming cats evidence overall health comparable to that of owned animals. Provided they are spayed or neutered and provided with food, water and cover, free-roaming domestic cats can live a decent natural life. Kittens are at the most risk of injury and illness, and experts estimate that between 60-75 percent of them die before reaching a year of age. In addition to improving the lives of adults, Trap Neuter Return prevents kittens from being born to suffer and die in these numbers.
How many litters do these cats have each year?
Scientific studies and opinions indicate that a female cat can have two litters a year averaging three kittens per litter and that reproductive cycles are associated with seasonal changes in sunlight. In our experience, although there may be as many as three reproductive cycles per year, few if any cats bear three litters. The physical stress presented by estrus, pregnancy, birth, and rearing of young probably prevents most free-roaming cats from producing more than two litters each year.
Why don’t you remove all the cats and place them in homes?
Sadly, until we can dramatically reduce their numbers, there are far more cats and kittens than space in shelters and rescues to house them or indoor homes available for them. In addition, as long as food is present (including dumpsters and other garbage receptacles), cats from expanding colonies nearby spread into the available space.
What don’t you just relocate cats?
Free-roaming cats’ well-being depends on familiarity with their environment – where they eat and safely sleep, other residents and their patterns, and knowledge of potential threats. Creating this familiarity in a new location is a timely process that is not always successful and if their territory remains largely intact, new cats will simply move in to replace them. In addition, as with indoor homes, far fewer opportunities for relocation exist than cats to fill them.
Why not just round up all the cats and kill them?
Even without regard to the ethical considerations, trapping and killing simply doesn’t work – the then president of the National Animal Control Association eloquently referred to this approach in a 2008 Animal Sheltering article as “bailing the ocean with a thimble.” In virtually all settings, cats can reproduce far faster than efforts to eradicate them and cats from nearby colonies move into the open territory. Additionally, members of the public frequently sabotage eradication efforts and the high cost of trapping and killing exceeds the community’s will to fund it.
Don’t cats kill a lot of wildlife?
Some free-roaming domestic cats, including indoor-outdoor pets, will kill wildlife. In the absence of sufficient and regular food, free-roaming cats generally kill wildlife only in order to survive or teach their young how to survive. Their success in this regard has been grossly overestimated by some well-meaning wildlife advocates. In our experience, few cats can survive by hunting wildlife though they can contribute to rodent control in some settings. Nonetheless, by reducing the population of free-roaming cats, we can reduce this stress on other species far more likely to be far greater stressed by the human species and its effects on the environment.
Do I have to worry about getting rabies from a free-roaming cat?
More than 90 percent of all rabid animals reported to Centers for Disease Control each year are wildlife, along the eastern United States primarily raccoons. From 2001 to early 2011, only 29 cases of rabies in humans were reported to the CDC. The last reported case of rabies in a human in Pennsylvania was in 1984. Rabies vaccination is a key of TNR and consequently, the more cats we manage via TNR, the more we vaccinate against rabies and the less likely the highly unlikely scenario of cat-to-human transmission becomes.
PA Department of Agriculture 2011 Rabies Statistics
It's not my cat, so why should I have it fixed?
Nobody's cats are everybody's cats -- the large and increasing population of free-roaming cats in our region affects everyone. Your taxes pay for shelter and animal-control contracts and services. The vast majority of animals handled through these means are free-roaming cats. Why not help prevent them from being born to be managed so that those precious tax dollars can be directed elsewhere? Free-roaming cats in your neighorhood also have other effects -- called "nuisance behavior" -- which, aside from being unpleasant, often results in neighborhood disputes that require intervention by police and health officers. Trap Neuter Return dramatically reduces this behavior since most of it is directly related to hunger and reproduction.
Since females make the kittens, why bother to neuter males?
The equation here is simple: 1+1 = 8 every year, year after year. Two cats together can produce two litters of at least four kittens each litter! Unaltered male free-roaming cats are part of the reproductive process -- and although they may not take up permanent residence in your neighborhood, they are always on the look out for a fertile female. (Females are fertile at only five months of age.) In addition, unaltered males live a tough life, roaming long distances and fighting over territory with other males, and they engage in all the "nuisance behavior" that causes issues with humans -- marking their territory with very strongly scented urine and engaging in noisy conflicts with other unaltered males.
How young is it safe to alter a free-roaming cat?
Both male and female free-roaming kittens can be altered safely at three months of age (and about three pounds in weight). They can also receive a rabies vaccine at that age. With less body fat than adults (in which anesthesia can be stored), kittens recover more quickly from the affects of anesthesia. In addition, since they never experience reproductive maturity, these animals can avoid a great many of the negative reproductive health effects such as deadly uterine or urinary tract infections as well as live longer and healthier lives because they aren't investing all of their energy in reproducing.
Is it safe to spay a female who is in heat, pregnant or lactating?
Altering cats who are pregnant, in estrus or lactating is perfectly safe for them. Mother cats who are lactating and returned quickly to their litters will continue to lactate as long as their kittens are nursing. Although terminating pregnancies may seem harsh, remember that 60-75 percent of kittens who are born will die before reaching a year of age. This includes many kittens surrendered to shelters or animal control agencies who are killed for no reason other than that there is no space for them. It is far kinder to prevent them from being born to suffer and die -- or survive to compete for the few good homes that are available.

TNR has been endorsed by many respected bodies, including:

Trap Neuter Return: Fixing Feral Cat Overpopulation
Presented By: The Humane Society

Surveys Supporting Endorsements
  • In early 2007, a professional survey research company conducted a representative telephone survey of Ohio residents. 77% agreed that TNR program are a good way to manage free-roaming cats.
  • Harris Interactive, of Harris Poll fame, surveyed a nationally representative sample of over 1200 adults in mid-2007. The following results were gathered:
    • If you saw a stray cat in your community and could only choose between two courses of action -- leaving the cat where it is outside or having the cat caught and put down -- which would you consider to be the more humane option for the cat?
      81% chose leaving the cat outside.
    • If you knew that the stray cat you saw would die in two years because it got hit by a car, which would you consider the most human option?
      72% chose leaving the cat outside vs. 21% that chose putting the cat down.

Trap Neuter Return: Fixing Feral Cat Overpopulation
Presented By: The Humane Society

Using the Trap Neuter Return (TNR) tehnique, all the cats in a colony are trapped, altered, and vaccinated against rabies. Feral cats are then returned to their territory where caregivers provide them with lifelong food, water, shelter, and veterinary care. Young kittens who can still be socialized, as well as friendly adults, are placed in foster care and eventually adopted out to good homes.

The TNR movement is growing leaps and bounds as residents and local governments see its potential. It is on a trajectory to become the predominant method of feral cat population control. If you are part of a group interested in participating in TNR or would just like to be educated on the TNR strategy, we’d be happy to meet with you. To schedule a meeting, seminar, or to invite us to speak at your meeting, please contact us at contact@nobodyscats.org.

Resouces:

Trap Neuter Return: Fixing Feral Cat Overpopulation
Presented By: The Humane Society

Using the Trap Neuter Return (TNR) tehnique, all the cats in a colony are trapped, altered, and vaccinated against rabies. Feral cats are then returned to their territory where caregivers provide them with lifelong food, water, shelter, and veterinary care. Young kittens who can still be socialized, as well as friendly adults, are placed in foster care and eventually adopted out to good homes.

The TNR movement is growing leaps and bounds as residents and local governments see its potential. It is on a trajectory to become the predominant method of feral cat population control. If you are part of a group interested in participating in TNR or would just like to be educated on the TNR strategy, we’d be happy to meet with you. To schedule a meeting, seminar, or to invite us to speak at your meeting, please contact us at contact@nobodyscats.org.

Implement Trap Neuter Return In High-Density Residential Settings and Enjoy Significant Benefits!

Implementing Trap Neuter Return in high-density residential settings such as apartment complexes, mobile home communities, and condominium developments humanely manages and reduce free-roaming domestic feline populations common to these communities – thereby creating significant financial benefits to property owners and managers.

Free-roaming domestic felines in these settings result from abandoned and unaltered pet cats. Domestic cats can produce as many as two litters per female a year, with four-to-six kittens per litter. Female kittens can become pregnant at five months and produce their first litter 64 days later.

Attempts to control the population by removing cats, in addition to being expensive and highly regulated by Pennsylvania state law protecting domestic species, prove fruitless as remaining animals more than fill the void in a short period of time. Likewise, punitive measures such as no-feed regulations do not work as compassionate individuals will continue feeding, usually at night, which further complicates matters by attracting wildlife.

Trap Neuter Return offers a comprehensive strategy for managing these populations. The strategy revolves around spaying and neutering animals, vaccinating them against rabies, and ear tipping them to identify that they are humanely managed. It also focuses on standardized feeding and sheltering to reduce nuisance behavior and on removal and rehoming of kittens and discarded pets as possible during its initial phases. In this way, colony size decreases through natural attrition.

The Nobody’s Cats Foundation will partner with you and local residents to implement this strategy. We provide free training, shelters and feeding stations, and loan of humane traps and other tools. The foundation clinic in Camp Hill offers spay/neuter surgery and related services for $30 per cat and in many cases, municipal or community cats programs will subsidize surgeries. Further, we can promote spaying and neutering of pet cats through numerous local services that will help to prevent pet cats from contributing to the community’s free-roaming population. We also promote reporting of animal cruelty – as acts of cruelty against animals is known to be connected to acts of violence against children, elders, spouses, and others.

Resouces:

Reporting Cruelty Against Free-Roaming Cats
Cruelty against domestic cats is against the law in Pennsylvania. The very best thing you can do to help fight and prevent cruelty is to report it. Reporting cruelty requires courage and persistence but do not be reluctant to act!

Pennsylvania state law protects domestic cats in addition to other species. Killing, maiming or disfiguring a domestic feline is against the law under the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes (PA ST L8 Pa. CSA 5 5511). The statute specifically includes poisoning or attempts to poison.

Remember that, although your emotions churn in response to witnessing or suspecting an act of cruelty, calm and deliberate behavior is the best way to move forward and is more likely to result in concrete action.


Who to Call
Many areas of our region do not have a designated agency for investigating and prosecuting animal cruelty cases. Local police or sheriff departments frequently dismiss those reporting cruelty against free-roaming cats even though it may well be their legal responsibility to investigate these cases. lf you call the police or sheriff to report cruelty and they do not take your report seriously, remind them that:

  • Animal cruelty is a crime in the state of Pennsylvania;
  • Repeat offenses are the rule not an exception;
  • There is an established connection between animal cruelty and other violent behavior; and
  • In many cases when police investigate animal cruelty they also uncover human-related crimes such as domestic abuse, child neglect, illegal drug trade, and other dangerous situations.

Clearly communicate that you expect the authority to investigate this crime as you would expect them to investigate any other crime and that if the local authorities do not respond, you intend to report their inaction to local government officials.

In most cases, unless the cat or cats are in immediate danger, the best place to start may be the local humane society or SPCA, many of which have humane officers on staff. We've included a list here of contacts by county. However, if you witness animal cruelty in progress, do not delay, CALL 911. The dispatcher will determine who should respond. Do not attempt to deal with the crime yourself.

  • In Adams County, report animal cruelty to the Adams County SPCA Humane Department at 717-334-8876 Extension 22 or email aavery@adamscountyspca.net. If the animal is in immediate danger, call 911. lf you have witnessed the cruel act yourself, you can go to your local police and ask to swear out a warrant to summon the accused person to court.

  • In Cumberland County, report animal cruelty to the Humane Society of the Harrisburg Area, by calling the Cruelty Department at 717-564-3320, extension 104; or the Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter (Chambersburg) by calling 717-263-5791 or emailing cvasofficer@cvas-pets.org. If the animal is in immediate danger, call 911. If you have witnessed the cruel act yourself, you can go to your local police and ask to swear out a warrant to summon the accused person to court.

  • In Dauphin County, report animal cruelty to the Humane Society of the Harrisburg Area, by calling the Cruelty Department at 717-564-3320, extension 104. If the animal is in immediate danger, call 911. If you have witnessed the cruel act yourself, you can go to your local police and ask to swear out a warrant to summon the accused person to court.

  • In Franklin County, report animal cruelty to Antietam Humane Society (Waynesboro) by calling 717- 762-9091; or the Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter (Chambersburg) by calling 717-263-5791 or emailing cvasofficer@cvas-pets.org. If the animal is in immediate danger, call 911. If you have witnessed the cruel act yourself, you can go to your local police and ask to swear out a warrant to summon the accused person to court.

  • In Lancaster County, report animal cruelty to the Humane League of Lancaster County by calling 717- 393-6551, extension 229 or email humanelawenforcement@humaneleague.com; or call ORCA (The Organization for Responsibility and Care of Animals) by calling 717-397-8922. If the animal is in immediate danger, call 911. If you have witnessed the cruel act yourself, you can go to your local police and ask to swear out a warrant to summon the accused person to court.

  • In Lebanon County, report animal cruelty to the Lebanon County Humane Society by calling 717-628-1369 or emailing humanelawenforcement@humaneleague.com. If you have witnessed the cruel act yourself, you can go to your local police and ask to swear out a warrant to summon the accused person to court.

  • In Perry County, report animal cruelty to the Humane Society of the Harrisburg Area, by calling the Cruelty Department at 717-564-3320, extension 104. If the animal is in immediate danger, call 911. If you have witnessed the cruel act yourself, you can go to your local police and ask to swear out a warrant to summon the accused person to court.

  • In York County, report cruelty to the York County SPCA Humane Officer at 717-764-6109. If the animal is in immediate danger, call 911. If you have witnessed the cruel act yourself, you can go to your local police and ask to swear out a warrant to summon the accused person to court.

Help Humane Officers Investigate Cruelty

There is a great deal you can do to help humane and other police officers investigate crime by gathering and providing as much evidence and information possible. The more information and data you can provide, the more effectively they can investigate the crime.

Document the location of the crime such as the street address including the house number and, if you know it, the name of the person committing the crime. If you cannot provide a specific address, provide information about cross streets or other details.

Provide a concise, factual stotement of what you observed, giving dates and approximate times. It helps to put your statement in writing in advance if you can. It also helps to provide a dated photo or video of the situation and to gather similar reports from other witnesses.

Always keep a careful record of exactly whom you contacted, the date of the contacts, and the content and outcome of any discussions. Also keep copies of all materials you provide to any agency.

Follow up if you don't receive a response within a reasonable amount of time. Remember that all of these agencies are short-staffed and in many cases cover large geographic areas, and you may not receive an immediate response. lf you feel the case is not being properly investigated, present your information to the humane officer's supervisor and/or local officials such as your local supervisor or county commissioner.