TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return)

The process is called TNR   Trap – Neuter – Return

It’s important to return these cats to the exact location in which they were trapped. Cats in unfamiliar territory often won’t survive. They take a long time finding food sources and shelter and may not survive until they find more, and they also can be chased away by other local cats.

1. If you normally feed them, withhold food for 8 hours or so prior to trapping. They’ll need to be hungry.

2. Set the trap with a small amount of food behind the trip plate.

3. Cover the center of the trap with a towel or small throw.

4. Watch your trap. Never leave the trap unattended, especially in cold or hot weather. Those metal traps can burn their little feet in the summer, or worse, they can die from exposure in the winter.  Cats stay warm through activity or by finding a warmer location.  When you leave them in a trap, they don’t have that option.

5. As soon as the cat is in the trap, cover the trap completely to keep him calm and place the trap in a calm, quiet and somewhat dark place indoors.

Tip:  Place the trap on cardboard and newspaper for easy cleanup.

6.  Place small amounts of food and water inside the trap.

7. Remove the food for 8 hours prior to surgery.

8. Transport the cat (covered) to the surgery site.


Many rescues and organizations run TNR programs at discounted prices. Nobody’s Cats Foundation is one local organization in our area offering this priceless program.  The photos below were taken at a TNR clinic through PAWS (Preservation of Animal Welfare and Safety).

9. Once surgery is complete, transport your cat home and allow him to recover in a quiet, darker, climate-controlled room.  Let him sleep for an hour or so until anesthesia starts to wear off.

10. After a few hours, put a small amount of wet food and some water inside the trap. Feed more as tolerated.

11. Check the cat frequently for any signs that he is becoming weaker. Females can bleed out and should be watched for signs of weakness, lethargy or bleeding.  This can happen quickly and could mean the cat is bleeding internally. Your cat should be alert after a few hours.  If not, call the Vet immediately.

13. After a specified recovery time, take the cat to the original trapping location and open the door. Give him a few moments to get his bearings and he’ll usually bolt out of the trap.  He might disappear for a few days. Can you blame him?  Don’t worry, he’ll be back for a meal soon.  (females will require a bit longer recovery time)

You’ll soon start to see a happier and healthier outdoor cat!


Important tips:

  • If a female cat has a swollen belly, seems to have full mammary glands, then she could be pregnant or nursing and trapping should be postponed.
  • Never leave traps open overnight. Cats can’t seek warmth or shelter and can die from stress or exposure.
  • Recovery area and staging area should be quiet and calm
  • Don’t trap too soon. Make your appointment first. You don’t want to find yourself with a trapped cat and no appointment for another week or two. It may be hard to re-trap the same cat later.
  • Males can be returned after about 36 hours. Females require 72 hours recovery.

Happy  Trapping!


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