Furry Friends Refuge offers a trap neuter return (TNR) program for feral and community cats in Urbandale and Clive. In July of 2022, these cities have changed policies and no longer use impoundment as a means to manage cats who are not socialized with people who are living in these communities.
I WANT TO HELP A CAT IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD. WHY IS TNR THE BEST OPTION?
While many of us see a cat in our neighborhood and have a desire to save the animal from potential harm, community cats consider their neighborhood home and do not want to be “rescued” and taken from their home. Cats who are not socialized with people and who require trapping to be caught have a very poor quality of life in an animal shelter. Because they are under extreme stress being forced to interact with humans, they become ill and spread illness to other animals in the shelter. Attempting to medicate animals who are feral is dangerous for both people and animals. In most communities, feral cats are killed when they are brought in to a shelter. Our communities have increased the impounding of cats by 142% between 2014 and 2020. This resulted in no decrease in the number of community cats in our neighborhoods but placed enormous strain on the shelter’s ability to help other domesticated animals who were truly in need of rescue. Cats who do not have human interaction prior to 6-8 weeks of age have a very low likelihood of becoming social with humans. These cats sit in shelters for months or even years, attempting to hide from and avoid people and coming out only at night when no humans are in the building. Cats who are relocated to areas outside their established community have a far greater mortality rates as they are unfamiliar with navigating the safety hazards and obtaining resources and often wander to attempt to find their true home (think of the animals in Homeward Bound). The best way to help a community cat that is unsocialized is to utilize our TNR program to help the cat is to have them sterilized to prevent future kittens, get them vaccinated against rabies and common diseases and then allow it to live his or her life at home in your community.
WHAT IF I JUST DON’T WANT ANY CATS IN MY AREA?
Just like other wildlife, feral or community cats have been a part of our communities long before we developed much of our land. As is true with other species, removal of a specific cat or group of cats from the neighborhood will result in new cats moving in. This is called the vacuum effect, meaning that removing cats will not provide a long term solution. Studies using both humane and lethal methods of removal have shown that this is not effective and an extremely expensive use of taxpayer funds. In our local communities, a 142% increase in impounded cats had no effect on curbing the population of community cats in our neighborhoods. Having cats that are spayed or neutered and vaccinated will ensure that the cats that remain are healthier and are not able to reproduce. Long term TNR efforts are the best way to work to reduce populations over time. For individuals who have attractive items in their yards, utilizing deterrents such as motion activated sprinklers, deterring scents, and chicken wire or barriers can help protect properties who do not want cats.
HOW CAN I GET STARTED TO UTILIZE THE TNR PROGRAM?
You can also email our TNR coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will help guide you through the process of helping community cats altered and vaccinated. If you are outside of these communities but are needing veterinary care for a feral cat, low cost services are available through our spay and neuter clinic. The Animal Rescue League of Iowa operates a TNR program for cats who live within the city of Des Moines.