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County Issue: Need Documented TNR Success Stories

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I received a call that some county employees have been asked to euthanize a colony of feral cats. As a result, I have a short deadline to come up with documented, impartial TNR success stories – news articles, studies, etc…, showing TNR works. I’ll likely put it together for a quick report. The county contact does not want any literature that could be construed as biased (in other words, the Alley Cat Allies –branded stuff is good for information, but not useful in its current form).

I’m stuck at work for the next day or so, which means I'm going to have very little time to put this together.

Does anyone have any good resources or help they can give?

I have done some research in the past for my own TNR website, but I’m going to have to scramble with very little time, so all help is appreciated!!!!

Links, articles, studies, research, anything...will be a big supplement to the work I'll be doing when I get home later tonight.

post #2 of 12
Have you checked out www.straypetadvocacy.org? We have many links there that may be useful.

For instance, Dr. Julie Levy's comments to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commitee (although hosted by Alley Cat Allies), cites her how studies that show a reduction of colony size via TNR:


Although not available on the website any longer, this study was published in JAVMA:

From the San Francisco SPCA, discussing their own experiences:

post #3 of 12
Don't miss the Feral Cats in the News blog for very impartial, and complete, reporting of nearly every incident that made presses relating to cats.


(I'm pretty jazzed because I just got it to load on my PDA so I can study the items on my commute on the subway!)

AZCats in Maricopa County ran, and I believe is still running, Project Felix -- a cooperative project between the County and a private animal welfare group.

I'm biased -- very much pro TNR. I know of data that TNR works, but my jurisdiction has a law that says that to tell you about it might subject some folks to prosecution. I'm working hard to change that, but for now, I don't know that I can help you. If you want some specifics, you can PM me and I'll explain.

Lots of localities are looking at TNR seriously as an effective alternative to trap-and-kill. Shouldn't that say something for it's merits too? What are your contacts' main concerns, do you know?

post #4 of 12

"Rikers Island
TNR Program Revisited"
(ASPCA Animal Watch, Winter 2003)
Following up on the feature story in their Winter 2002 issue, ASPCA Animal Watch returns to Rikers Island to gauge the progress of the 250 cat trap-neuter-return project. One year later found relatively few unneutered cats remaining, only an occasional litter of kittens and reports from prison personnel that the cats were much less visible (neutered cats roam much less.) "All in all," [Executive Director Bryan Kortis] says, "Rikers has, to date, served as an excellent example of the effectiveness of TNR when properly implemented."
post #5 of 12
In Maricopa County, Arizona, "catch and kill" was practiced for 20 years. "It wasn't making a difference in terms of the numbers of cats coming in," says Ed Boks, executive director of Maricopa County Animal Control (and, beginning July 1, 2003, the part-time head of New York City's Center for Animal Care and Control). Maricopa County was taking in about 20,000 cats per year, half of whom were feral. In 2002, the county developed Operation FELIX (Feral Education & Love Instead of Extermination), which employs TNR as a humane response to the massive problem. As a result of its success, the county board of supervisors issued a resolution proclaiming TNR as the preferred method of dealing with feral cats. "We hope it's a real example to the rest of the nation," says Boks. Operation Catnip's Levy puts it another way: "I'd like to be so successful that we put ourselves out of business."
post #6 of 12
Try to contact Lisa (Houseofcats). She has been caring for a colony of cats in a park where she lives in Arizona. She and her husband have TNRed around 100 cats over the past few years. Last year, they had no new kittens at the park (a first!). (They have been featured in CatFancy magazine for their work.)

Lisa has a whole lot on her plate right now and isn't able to visit as much as usual, but I'll bet she would love to share her story with you.
post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
Here is my early assessment and roundup. Some of these are quoted from the source, others are paraphrased or summarized.

•\tSan Francisco Golden Gate Park – One colony of feral cats was reduced from 85 to two through Trap-Neuter-Return, a 98% reduction. (Source: City of Berkeley)
•\tStanford University – After a TNR program was implemented, the campus cat population reached zero population growth almost immediately. Through natural attrition and the adoption of tame cats, the colony has decreased by over 50%. (Source: City of Berkeley)
•\tUniversity of Florida – Over 11 years, through a TNR program and natural causes, a colony of 155 feral cats was 86% reduced to a final 22. (Source: Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, Humane Society of the United States)
•\tHamilton, New Jersey -- Hamilton Township reports that the number of cats put down last year was less than 20 percent of the 571 cats put to death in Hamilton five years ago. Township spokesman Rich McClellan attributed the decreasing number of cats put down to the work of a local non-profit TNR organization, Stray Katz. (Source: BestFriends.org)
•\tPhillipsburg and Cape May, New Jersey – Phillipsburg’s stray cat population dropped by 350 in the first year of their TNR program, and complaints about the animals trailed off. (Source: Newsday via BestFriends.org)
•\tSan Diego, California : In 1992, San Diego Department of Animal Control euthanized 15,525 cats at a cost of $121 per cat. That year, Feral Cat Coalition San Diego, a private, volunteer organization, began aggressive spay/neuter programs. By 1998, the number of animals killed each year dropped more than 45 percent, with a tax saving of $859,221. (Source: IndyFeral)
•\tMaricopa County, Arizona : Maricopa County spends $61 to trap, hold, and euthanize one feral cat, versus $22.50 to spay or neuter and return a cat. Maricopa County Animal Care and Control encourages communities to adopt TNR by passing associated costs along to them. (Source: IndyFeral)
•\tIndianapolis Animal Care and Control : Indianapolis ACC's cost of trapping, holding and euthanizing one feral cat is comparable to the national average of $130. IndyFeral and its volunteers can humanely trap, vaccinate, evaluate, sterilize and return the cat for $20. (Source: IndyFeral)
•\tOrange County, Florida : Before implementing TNR, Orange County Animal Services received 175 nuisance complaints a week. Complaints have dropped dramatically; cat adoptions have increased from 400 to more than 1,000 per year. (Source: IndyFeral)
•\tCape May, New Jersey : Since implementing community-wide TNR procedures in 2001, Animal Control Officer John Queenan has achieved an 80 percent drop in feral cat complaints. (Source: IndyFeral) The city has found the $30 cost of trapping, vaccinating, sterilizing, and releasing the cats less than the $80 cost of trapping them, holding them in a shelter for the seven days required by law, and then euthanizing them. (Source: Bergen Record)
•\tRikers Island, New York : Following up on the feature story in their Winter 2002 issue, ASPCA Animal Watch returns to Rikers Island to gauge the progress of the 250 cat trap-neuter-return project. One year later found relatively few unneutered cats remaining, only an occasional litter of kittens and reports from prison personnel that the cats were much less visible. (Source: ASPCA Animal Watch via Neighborhood Cats).
•\tNew York City: New York City is formally working with TNR through a public-private partnership with the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals and thereby, The New York City Feral Cat Council (NYCFCC). The ASPCA has pledged $5 million to the Mayor's Alliance toward the goal of NYC pursuing "no-kill" shelter and animal control policies. Source: Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals.
• \tUniversity of Texas: Of 230 cats at the start of their program, only 30-40 sterilized adult cats continue live on campus in managed colonies, with **no** new litters of kittens born for the past 4 years. Of the original amount, 128 cats and kittens were adopted, 11 were euthanized for illness, and 91 were trapped, neutered and returned. That’s an approximate 83-87% reduction in the number of cats living in campus colonies, and a 61% reduction of the population overall. (University of Texas-Austin CCC)
• Chaminade University, Magic Island, Hawaii -- "Magic Island once had more than 200 stray cats; now there are about a dozen. The campus of Chaminade University once had 150 cats; as of May 2000, there were 50. And no kittens have been born in more than two years." ... The Hawaiian Humane Society began providing free cat sterilizations to caretakers in 1993, and since then, 14,665 surgeries have been done. (Source: Honolulu Advertiser)

Where "Kill" or "Remove" Programs Fail:

•\tSonoma State University -- administrators implemented a trap and kill program over the objections of campus cat caregivers. Less than one year after the cats were removed, more cats were again living on campus. (Source: City of Berkeley, San Mateo Daily Journal)
•\tGeorgetown University -- school officials trapped feral cats and took them to the local animal control agency where the cats were killed. less than six months later, 10 new unaltered cats and 20 kittens appeared on the campus. (Source: City of Berkeley, San Mateo Daily Journal)

post #8 of 12
post #9 of 12
Scott, I'm sorry I didn't see this in time to be helpful. Looks like you've pulled together a great list. Offhand, I don't know where there are articles, but Florida - Gainesville is also running a TNR program, so are many college campuses, including TX - Austin.

I know Atlantic City is also adopting TNR as a practice, but it would be too early for results. But perhaps just that such a large city is beginning such a program might help.
post #10 of 12
We also have some great links to cats & Predation issues on www.StrayPetAdvocacy.org if you want to address those issues as well.

If you still have time, I can help pull info together and find further references on Tuesday (6/8). Either respond here, PM or e-mail me and let me know how I can be useful if you need that time.
post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks Laurie and Katie,

I'm going to send some information to her now, and have a chat. If I need anything else, I'll definitely post here. I am additionally preparing a handout for this neighbor who is trapping cats and as an extra bit of info for this other situation. Feel free to review - it's a work-in-progress.



Why Trap-And-Kill doesn’t work:

•\tThere are an estimated 70 million stray cats in the United States. Local populations are probably in the thousands. Killing a small number of animals is not going to stop the reproductive cycle. The animals will repopulate as much as the environment (and shelter) will sustain them. Kill five animals, and five animals will move in. Some scenarios have actually shown that animals will repopulate the same area in greater numbers. As long as there is enough food or shelter, the animals will continue to repopulate the area from neighboring properties or colonies. For that reason, it is better to have a sterilized, managed group than a revolving-door. This is otherwise known as the “vacuum effect.â€
•\tTNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) advocates sterilize and vaccinate area cats on a regular basis, and cover the expenses from donations and money out of their own pockets. If someone is trapping and having the cats killed, TNR supporters have little reason to spend their time and money on sterilizations. As a result, they stop their efforts. Since those people are the #1 proponent of cutting population growth for strays, the numbers of stray animals will logically increase. Many local shelter and TNR groups report these results – that TNR programs significantly cut the number of shelter strays and nuisance complaints.
•\tTNR supporters have a major advantage over trap-and-kill methods. Since people are generally friendly to animals, TNR supporters can often get a property owner’s permission to trap on their property, whereas “trap and kill†proponents would not. As a result, those sterilized animals do not breed into neighboring properties.
•\tCats can breed faster than they can be removed. A single unsprayed female can have 3-4 litters of kittens per year. “Trap and Kill†efforts are usually limited in area or duration – a few cats caught in one small area, then killed, until the “visible†cats are no longer there. As a result, the less visible, nocturnal, neighboring or unsterilized cats continue to breed.
•\tBy leaving traps out overnight with food in them (to catch whatever you can catch), you are advertising that spot as a food source to various animals, cats or not, thereby attracting animals to the location. Most TNR programs have specific feeding schedules (only during the day or at specific times, for example) and traps are only deployed to catch specific animals.

What Is Done in TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return):

•\tTNR supporters work directly with local veterinarians, supported by local and national organizations.
•\tMale cats are neutered, which stops them from spraying and other negative behaviors.
•\tFemale cats are spayed. These two things immediately stop population growth.
•\tKittens and young cats are removed from the colony and socialized for adoption, which immediately reduces the overall number of cats.
•\tBy law, all cats are vaccinated for rabies. There have been **zero** cases of humans contracting rabies from a cat (regardless, TNR cats are vaccinated).
•\tCats may additionally be tested and vaccinated for FELV, FIV or other diseases that only affect cats. Studies have shown that the [low] incidence of these diseases is generally the same for strays as it is for house cats.
•\tCats are dewormed, combed and treated with Frontline and Advantage, which kills fleas and ticks and lasts for a month or more.
•\tSick or seriously injured cats are euthanized if they are evaluated by a veterinarian and found to be unrecoverable.
•\tFeral cats are expected to live from 3-5 years, which means spayed/neutered colonies with their kittens adopted-out should eventually be reduced to nothing or almost nothing through attrition.

What Has Been Done Locally:

•\t(9) cats have been removed,
o\t(8) of those were adopted
o\t(1) was euthanized (an older cat with cancer)
•\t(10) cats were spayed/vaccinated and returned.
o\t(2) of those are missing
o\t(4) of those are “regular†visitors.
o\t(4) of those spend the bulk of their time in the woods or on neighboring properties in a half-mile radius.

Therefore, 19 cats were reduced to 4 regular visitors and 4 occasional visitors. As a result, **no** new kittens have been seen on the property. We know that there are still a few “area†cats that may roam through, but the number of cats that could be considered part of this one colony has been vastly reduced. Any roaming cats will be caught and sterilized. Obviously, there’s no incentive to spend time, money and effort on a program in an environment where a single property owner is randomly bringing cats in to be euthanized. The number one chance at reducing the number of cats and managing the remaining few is TNR. The response of other property owners and residents to our efforts has been overwhelmingly positive.


•\tWe have discussed our efforts and/or have received the support of local veterinarians, national organizations, property owners, local animal control and local rescue groups.
•\tMedical records are kept for all of the cats, and almost all of the cats have identity records such as photographs.

Organized TNR is Endorsed By:
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)
American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)
Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals
Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)
American Humane Association (AHA)

…among many others…
post #12 of 12
Looks good to me, Scott!!!!!!!! It really summarizes it in a short readable user-friendly way. I did see one place where there was "spray" instead of "spay," but now I can't find it.

Don't know if it matters, but the AAFP (American Association of Feline Practitioners) also supports TNR (same as AVMA - when no endangered species are potentially threatened by proximity of colony).
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