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Alley Cat Allies

Feral Cat Project


Neighborhood Cats

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The ABCs of TNR

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They sleep in our parks, alleyways, farmyards, and deserted buildings. Abandoned by their human families or simply lost, unsterilized housecats eventually band together in groups called colonies. Without human contact, the colonies eventually become feral.

No one knows exactly how many feral cats live in the United States, but the number is estimated in the tens of millions. They are often wrongly portrayed as disease-ridden nuisances living tragic lives and responsible for endangering native species. As a consequence, feral feline communities too frequently are rounded up and killed.

But removing and killing feral cats does not reduce feral cat populations. It only provides space for more cats to move in and start the breeding process again.

Many methods of managing feral cats exist including (1) doing nothing and letting starvation, disease, and fighting control the population; (2) trapping and killing cat colonies, and (3) trapping, sterilizing, and returning feral cats to their environment (trap-neuter-return, or TNR).

There is a growing body of evidence supporting TNR as the humane way to reduce feral cat populations. In addition to reducing the number of feral cats, nuisance behaviors associated with breeding, such as the yowling of females or the spraying of males, are virtually eliminated. Disease and malnutrition are greatly reduced. The cats live more healthy and more peaceful lives in their territories. For more information on what you can do to help, see the information to the left. (Adapted from Alley Cat Allies, Inc.)