TNR: What You Need to Know

March 2, 2016 - Nate Needs

No Comments

Free-roaming and feral cats are the reason for the majority of kittens born in the United States.  Shelters are packed with kittens and young cats without homes, and sadly, many of them end up being euthanized.  It’s a huge problem.  So, how can we help?  Short answer:  Trap/Neuter/Return (TNR).


Since feral cats have no owner to bring them in to be fixed, they must be humanely trapped.  Once the kitty is safe inside the trap, they are then taken to a vet or clinic to be spayed/neutered, vaccinated and micro-chipped.  Finally, the cat is returned to its original territory, usually with a “notch” in his ear – this identifies the cat as being altered, vaccinated and micro-chipped .  This is the only surefire method that has been proven to reduce a community’s euthanasia rates in the free-roaming cat population.  Since the feral cats can no longer reproduce, their numbers naturally decline.  TNR is also safe and cost-effective.

Did you know that A.P.E. is Iowa’s largest provider of TNR?  It’s true!  We also run the only mobile TNR service in Iowa, which serves even more feral cats than other clinics do.  We have assisted multiple counties in Iowa with setting up their own TNR programs, including Guthrie, Greene, Dallas, Harrison, and Calhoun.  We even had a police officer comment on how drastically his calls on feral cats were reduced after A.P.E. got the program established!


The idea for A.P.E. and a TNR program came about when one of the founders of A.P.E. was in the army in California.  This was in the early 90s, and the concept of TNR wasn’t nearly as widespread as it is today.  A small group of people on the base established a TNR program for barn cats that were living in a horse boarding stable.  This was where A.P.E. and its focus on Trap/Neuter/Return were born.

Before A.P.E. was established in 2003, a group of volunteers got together and wrote the policies and code that are still in place today on our TNR program.  Other towns are still contacting us today to use these policies in their own communities.  Recently, communities in Polk, Emmett, and Calhoun county reached out to us for these sample codes to ensure the safety of animals in their communities. The following is an example of the code A.P.E. has in place for our TNR program.

55.19 MANAGED FERAL CATS. The animal care and control division or its designee in the City of [Your Town], in order to encourage the stabilization of the feral cat population in the City may implement the Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) Program as follows:

1. Live-trap any free-roaming cat in a humane manner,

2. Have the cat surgically altered, ear-notched (if feral), and vaccinated against rabies, and

3. If stray, release the cat to a humane organization for adoption or other disposition in accordance with law, or, if feral, return to a colony caretaker who will maintain the cat as part of the managed feral cat colony.

Read more about Trap/Neuter/Return here, and click here to see how you can help with our efforts to control the population of free-roaming cats.

Share this article

Nate Needs

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *