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Feral Cats and Trap-Neuter-Return

Feral Cats and TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return)


TrapNeuterReturn (TNR) is a nonlethal method to reduce the number of feral and stray cats in our community both immediately and for the long term. TNR is a comprehensive, ongoing program, in which stray and feral cats are humanely trapped, evaluated, vaccinated, and sterilized by veterinarians. They are returned to their original location to live out their lives under the watch of voluntary caregivers who provide food, water, and shelter daily. TNR is the only successful longterm strategy for humanely controlling the population of feral or free roaming cats. A sterilized colony of feral cats will stabilize and eventually decline in numbers through illness, accidents, and old age. All free roaming cats should be spayed and neutered.



From this colony alone, Alley Cats and Angels TNR'd over 25 adult cats and 16 kittens were taken into our adoption program from this location in 2010.

This is the colony Alley Cats and Angels will begin work on in March 2011. There are 21 cats in the above picture. There are an estimated 50100 cats at this location.


Setting up traps near the barn

The ferals smelled canned chicken and came to check out the trap.

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March 2011

Feral Cats and Trap-Neuter-Return

The first cat went into the trap, while the other wondered what we were doing.

Oriette, an assumedtobe pregnant female, was one of the cats the caregiver was really hoping would go in the trap. Oriette was formerly called "Oreo" until she had her first litter of kittens and they realized she was a girl. The caregiver had been keeping an eye on the goings on in her yard, and knew which of the girl cats had been in heat. She was sure about Oriette and Halloween, and so they had priority for the first appointments with the vet.

Halloween, the second assumedtobe pregnant girl the caregiver was very hopeful would be caught, was tricky. She kept coming and going and eluding capture. She was even in the drop trap for a few seconds and then got out.

More ferals emerged from the barn, smelling chicken.

March 2011

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Feral Cats and Trap-Neuter-Return

Halloween and the big gray cat checked out one of the traps, but neither went inside.

Trap savvy cats beware; we've broken out the "big guns" ­ the drop trap!

Oriette deciding the "big box" was worth going under to have some chicken!

Oriette under the trap, rope pulled, trap dropped. This is a great action shot.

TNR helper ran over to trap and put foot on trap to hold it down while Oriette "popcorned" up and down inside the netting.

TNR Leader covers drop trap with blanket to help calm cat. Then the humane trap was put in front of the door of the drop trap and both trap doors were opened in order to transfer Oriette from the drop trap to the humane trap.

March 2011

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Feral Cats and Trap-Neuter-Return

Oriette came out of the drop trap and into the humane trap. The humane trap was covered with a towel to help her calm down, and the trap was transferred to the car with the other ferals that already had been caught.

Resetting the drop trap and adding more canned chicken

After a try and an escape, Halloween went into the drop trap. Here she is transferred to the humane trap. The caregiver was so excited because we caught both pregnant females.

Halloween in the humane trap, covered, and headed to the car.

March 2011

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Feral Cats and Trap-Neuter-Return

The cats were transported to and from Operation Catnip, where they were spayed or neutered, and vaccinated. They went from the caregiver's to the TNR Leader's house, to Operation Catnip, and then back again, while in their traps. They stayed overnight in their traps, in a separate room, at the TNR Leader's house the nights before and after surgery. (Animals can't have food or water the night before surgery, for their own safety during surgery, and they need to recover and be fully awake after surgery, before release.). The TNR Leader put down the back seat of her car to open the whole inside up to allow for air flow to the trunk. She covered the whole area with a waterproof covering and then towels, which could be washed with chorine later, after the cats were returned. The traps were kept covered with towels and blankets to keep the cats calm.

The vets who volunteer at Operation Catnip are familiar with working with feral cats, and are able to sedate the cats while they are still in their traps, so as not to subject the cats to the stress of being handled while awake. After surgery, the cats were placed back in their traps, and woke up while still in them. They stayed at the TNR Leader's house while they recovered from their surgeries, staying in the traps as well. This is safer for everyone involved, and ensures that no cats get loose and become lost. They need to be kept for at least 2448 hours to make sure they are fully awake and ready to be released.


These are the first six cats that went to Operation Catnip: five girls and one boy. The towels covered them until release to help keep them calm. The cats knew right away they were home, once they were placed in their yard facing their barn. They were released in a location so they would run back to the barn and not towards the road.

Oriette, waiting calmly to be released. She is one of the girls who would have had a litter of kittens soon had she not been trapped.

March 2011

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Feral Cats and Trap-Neuter-Return

Of the first group trapped, waiting to be released is a handsome shorthaired black male cat. Upon release, he ran straight towards the barn.

Also waiting to be released is one of the calicoandwhite females. All the ferals received an ear clip on their left ears to identify them as having been fixed and vaccinated. This way, even if the cats look very much alike, everyone will be able to tell who has been to the vet and who has not. The goal is to trap, neuter or spay, and vaccinate the entire group so no unwanted kittens will be born, and the colony will not grow. Eventually, this will lead to the caregiver having a manageable number of cats to feed and look after. The cats will be much happier and healthier as well.

Halloween is the other girl who would have had a litter of kittens soon had she not been captured. She is a beautiful longhaired black cat with yellow eyes. As pretty as all these cats are, they are not tame enough to be pets. They prefer the company of other cats instead of people and are happy living together in the caregiver's barn.

This is another very pretty calicoandwhite female. As cats can produce a litter of kittens roughly every 63 days, spaying these cats prevented a great many births. The caregiver would have been unable to take care of this situation on her own, as she is a senior lady with a limited income. She was so happy and thankful to have help with both trapping the cats and the cost of spay/neuter.

March 2011

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Feral Cats and Trap-Neuter-Return

Halloween, just before release. She is just gorgeous and is going to have a much better life now that she is spayed and vaccinated and will no longer reproduce.

The TNR Leader lifted the towels off the ends of the traps where the doors were to get them ready to go.

This kitty was shy about coming out of her trap. The TNR Leader had to coax her to come out.

The trap had to be tipped slightly to encourage her to leave the trap.

Finally, she came out, looked around, and ran closer to the barn to wait for her friend. Once the last girl came out of her trap, the two of them ran off together to the caregiver's house. Halloween waited for Oriette to come out too. These cats all seem to look out for each other.

March 2011

Loading empty traps back up in the car to wrap up the day.

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Feral Cats and Trap-Neuter-Return


In addition to assisting with TNR efforts by caregivers participating in Operation Catnip spay days, Alley Cats and Angels also sponsors and subsidizes spay/neuter surgeries/vaccinations through our Alter an Alley Cat Spay/Neuter Assistance Program for: Cats owned by households with low/fixed incomes or on government assistance Feral cats whose caregivers cannot afford the cost of spay/neuter (again, typically low/fixed incomes or on government assistance) We subsidize and sponsor these surgeries and vaccinations via lowcost spay/neuter vouchers and monthly spay days hosted by a local veterinarian. The following services are provided via the voucher program and spay days: spay/neuter, FVRCP [distemper] vaccination, and rabies vaccination. In addition, feral cats also have their left ear cropped as a permanent indication that they have been spayed/neutered. For spay days, services are provided at very low cost to the owner/caregiver (typically $10); however, if the owner/caregiver cannot afford the spay day copay, they will not be turned away as long as appointments are available, and Alley Cats and Angels will sponsor the entire cost. We can spay/neuter and vaccinate up to 30 cats in a single spay day. The Alter an Alley Cat Spay days are funded by individual donations, sponsorships, grants, and fundraisers. People requesting spay/neuter assistance are referred to us by our website, feral cat caregivers, AnimalKind, Spay NC Helpline, other local rescue organizations, and word of mouth. Below are just a few pictures from two of Alley Cats and Angels 2011 spay days.

After intake, cats are brought into the back of the clinic and then typically separated by gender. Females are typically spayed in the morning and males in the afternoon because females require longer to recover because they are under anesthesia longer than males.

Feral females waiting for spay/neuter surgery

March 2011

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Feral Cats and Trap-Neuter-Return

Feral cats are sedated while in their trap for the safety of both the cat and the vet. Here, a trap divider is being inserted to keep the cat from moving while it receives an injection ­ this is important for the cat's safety as they can hurt themselves thrashing around in a trap.

Prepping the cat for surgery

Final surgical prep


Postsurgical fluids being administered to a female cat

Recovery cages for friendly cats. For safety reasons (cat and vet), feral cats recover in their traps as is standard protocol for feral cats.

March 2011

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Alley Cats and Angels' volunteers spent a good part of two springs and a summer doing TNR at a colony in downtown Raleigh. We were contacted by a Good Samaritan who would pay for all the surgeries, but needed someone to trap and transport the cats. Upon learning there were about 14 cats that kept reproducing and adding to the overpopulation problem, we gladly took on the challenge of TNRing this colony. The first night, we trapped five cats in less than 20 minutes, put out food for the remaining cats, and then sat back and watched the cats. We were not shocked to see about 22 cats come out to eat (there are almost always more cats in a colony than the caregiver thinks there are). Our TNR Task Force persevered and continued to trap until every cat had a cropped ear [the goal should always be to TNR every cat in the colony]. In total, we TNR'd over 35 cats from that location and took over 12 kittens and 1 friendly adult cat into our adoption program from this colony. In 2010, the colony made it through the entire spring and summer without any new kittens. The business owner is very happy that we have helped facilitate zero growth in that colony. This is just one of the many success stories we have that proves TNR works.


Alley Cats and Angels spends countless hours dealing with the tragic results of cat overpopulation. Sadly, much of the suffering that we see could have been prevented if cats were spayed or neutered before they had a chance to reproduce. Alley Cats and Angels is committed to helping end cat overpopulation through our Alter an Alley Cat spay/neuter assistance program -- and we need your help. Together, we can help ensure that fewer cats are euthanized at local shelters each year, because through spaying/neutering, unwanted litters of kittens can be prevented. Please consider sponsoring spay/neuter/vaccinations for one cat (or more), or sponsoring a spay day. Contact Alley Cats and Angels for more information (website:, email: [email protected], phone: 9193033500). It costs Alley Cats and Angels $60 to spay/neuter and vaccinate a cat, $375 to sponsor half a spay day (15 cats), and $750 to sponsor a full spay day (30 cats). For spay day sponsors, we will gladly recognize your company on our website, Facebook pages, blog, and press releases.

March 2011

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