Position Statement| Trap-Neuter-Return

Alley Cat Allies supports non-lethal and humane practices that address community cat populations. We support and promote Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) programs.

Community cats have been living full, healthy lives outdoors for over 10,000 years. The cruel, outdated practice of catching-and-killing cats is a futile and never-ending cycle, and it is being abandoned by more and more cities and shelters across America. We support Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) programs. TNR is the only humane and effective approach to community cats. It not only helps cats, it helps the communities where they live. Therefore, we advocate for catch-and-kill schemes to be replaced by Trap-Neuter-Return in all communities across the country and around the world.

Community cats are unowned cats who live outdoors in virtually every landscape on every continent predominantly where people live. Like pet cats, they belong to the domestic cat species (Felis catus). However, community cats, also called feral cats, are generally not socialized—or friendly—to people, therefore cannot live indoors.

Trap-Neuter-Return is the mainstream approach to community cat populations, worldwide. Today, over 650 municipalities have adopted a Trap-Neuter-Return ordinance or policy, and thousands more are conducting grassroots volunteer-led programs.

During Trap-Neuter-Return, cats are humanely trapped, taken to a veterinarian to be spayed or neutered, and vaccinated and eartipped (the universal sign that a cat has been part of a TNR program). After recovery, the cats are returned to their home outdoors.

Trap-Neuter-Return stabilizes community cat populations and, over time, colonies decrease in size. TNR stops the breeding cycle, eliminates mating behaviors, such as yowling, spraying, roaming and fighting, and consistently produces the best results among all options available to coexist with people. Finally, Trap-Neuter-Return benefits public health because community cats, who are just as healthy as pet cats, are vaccinated against rabies. Overall, the cats’ physical health improves as does their relationship with the community.

The lethal scheme of removing outdoor cats from their environment and impounding them at shelters and pounds is cruel, ineffective, and is done at the taxpayer’s expense. Nationwide, 70% of all impounded cats are killed, and that number is nearly 100% for cats who are unsocialized, and therefore unadoptable. In addition, attempts to remove cats result in population increases as an influx of new, unsterilized cats move into the same area and reproduce. This well-documented natural phenomenon is known as the “vacuum effect.”

Every cat should be valued and protected. We strive for a world where all domestic cats have a safe community in which to live, including those whose homes are outdoors.