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TNR (which stands for Trap, Neuter, Return) is a growing movement to humanely control the cat population by trapping unowned neighborhood cats, having them altered (and often vaccinated), then returning the cat back to their neighborhood. Contrary to previous strategies of trap and kill, TNR allows cats to live out the remainder of their life without contributing to our overpopulation crisis, while also reducing and eliminating nuisance issues. The yowling and fighting often associated with feral cats is reduced, along with the odor of unneutered males marking their territory. A group of feral cats returned to its area also prevents new unneutered cats from moving in and taking over, once again starting the cycle of overpopulation and nuisance behavior.

Studies show that with targeted trapping a colony, neighborhood, or city's population can be stabilized, reducing the number of kittens born and decreasing the wave of kittens pouring into shelters during the spring and summer months known as "Kitten Season". Fewer kittens mean there are lower kill-rates and the cats already in shelters and rescues have a higher chance of adoption.

What is TNR?

Why can't these cats go to rescues or sanctuaries? Many TNR programs work with other organizations or have an adoption program to place friendly cats when possible. However the vast majority of cats TNRed are feral cats. Rescuing feral cats and trying to provide good homes for them is impracticable, there are far too many and adult cats raised in the wild usually have no interest in living with humans. In extreme circumstances cats may be relocated to a Working Cats program, but the demand for placement far outweighs the available homes. 

The traditional techniques used by animal control of trapping and disposing of these cats is a lesson in futility. If any are left behind they quickly repopulate, and if none are left behind new unneutered cats will take over and begin the cycle anew. In fact, because of this, more animal control agencies than ever are willing to try TNR.