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Trap, Neuter & Return (TNR)

TNR is a way to manage colonies of stray and feral cats humanely, more effectively and less expensively than the eradication approaches. These colonies are the result of pet abandonment or straying and failure to spay and neuter. The ferals are the offspring of the abandoned/lost pets and unless they are living very near people, are very wild and mistrusting of people. They are NOT socialized or like friendly barn kitties; handling them is dangerous and should not be attempted by anyone not trained to do so safely. People living nearby often feed the cats so the colony forms around this resource, and of course grows rapidly. A pair of breeding cats (capable of having two or more litters per year) can produce 420,000 offspring over a seven-year period. U.S. animal shelters are forced to kill millions of homeless cats annually. Cats that do not end up in shelters cannot fend for themselves and many die from starvation, disease, abuse, or as food for a predator. And of course, they are not vaccinated and thus can pass diseases to both people and local domestic pets who wander outdoors.

LAWS began a pilot TNR program in one area just outside the Laramie city limits (stray animals currently must be turned in to the Laramie Animal Shelter; TNR is illegal within the city limits, though we are working to change that) in October of 2013, with the help of two local veterinary clinics who give us discounted rates for the surgery and vaccinations and other medical care the cats need. Our volunteers identify a colony (often residents call to ask what to do about the cats), and then assist local residents to trap the adults and then deliver the cats to a vet clinic. Spay or neuter, vaccinations (Rabies and Feline Distemper Combo), parasite treatment if needed and treatment of wounds found at time of surgery are carried out by the veterinarian, and the cat is returned after a 24-hour recovery period to where it was trapped. It now is healthier, cannot breed, and does not constitute a health danger to either pets or people. Additionally, those established residents discourage other strays from joining the colony. If a few do, they can be identified because their ear is not notched, and they can be trapped and processed and returned. Local residents agree to provide fresh food and water daily and also shelter (we have volunteers who construct shelters if there are none locally).

In the process of trapping the adults, we capture all the kittens we can find and take them to the veterinary clinics to be evaluated for health, dewormed, given their first kitten shots (if old enough), and placed in foster homes in Laramie, where they are socialized and raised to be house pets, and learn good behaviors. They receive regular vet visits and when big enough, are spayed/neutered, updated on vaccinations, and then LAWS puts them up for adoption by approved applicants. Kittens six weeks and younger can generally be socialized successfully and become loving, playful companions. Older kittens often do not socialize that well but can be raised by fosters for a time and vaccinated, spayed/neutered and placed in high-level positions as rodent control officers in barns and outbuildings on farms and ranches, and sometimes in warehouses or storerooms in businesses.

Since October of 2013 when LAWS really began to bring in colony managers for the TNR program, our volunteers have captured about 100 kittens from those colonies each year and we have found good homes for all of them! Each kitten goes to its new family spayed or neutered, with first shots and a microchip so it has a chance of getting back home if disaster strikes and it strays. We are so grateful to all the wonderful volunteers, homeowners, and ranch owners who have helped to get this program off to such a wonderful start, and to the families who have offered loving homes to all the little fur balls who otherwise would have led grim lives for a couple of years and then died.

How YOU Can Help

It takes years to bring huge colonies of approximately 300 cats under real control, because we cannot trap all the adults at once, and the ones left unprocessed continue to breed. We always miss a few kittens, and of course they grow up and breed, beginning at six months. But each year the crop grows a little smaller in a location where we can concentrate and have good cooperation from residents. Our resources are not unlimited, so there are still many areas with unmanaged colonies that continue to grow. If you are interested in helping, please fill out the online application on this page, and we’ll get you started.

Partnering with LAWS on TNR

If you do not wish to help with TNR in other locations but do want to process stray/feral cats in your locality, we can set you up as a LAWS TNR Partner. Just fill in and submit the TNR form on this page, and we’ll be in touch to set you up with which vet clinic you’ll be using and the cost to you, and our guidelines for the program. We will also offer you the training we give our volunteers, so you can be safer and more effective in catching, transporting and releasing the adults you find. We’ll also arrange with you about raising the kittens you may well find as you set the traps for the adults. We can lend traps also.