The Greater Androscoggin Humane Society believes that Trap-Neuter-Return, or “TNR,” is the most humane and effective method known for managing unowned community (feral and stray) cats and reducing their numbers. The cats, who typically live together in a group called a colony, are trapped and brought to our shelter or a participating veterinary clinic. They are humanely spayed or neutered, vaccinated for rabies and their left ear is tipped to indicate that they have been sterilized. After they’ve recovered from their surgeries, the cats are returned back to their original outdoor home where a caretaker provides regular food and shelter. When foster or permanent homes are available, young kittens and friendly adults are placed for adoption.
Because the cats can no longer reproduce, the colony has the potential to decline in size over time. Spaying and neutering also greatly reduce nuisance behavior. Once the cats are fixed, fighting, yowling and other noise associated with mating stops almost entirely. The foul odor caused by unaltered males spraying to mark territory disappears and the cats, no longer driven to mate, roam much less and become less visible. The cats themselves are healthier and less likely to spread feline diseases. Meanwhile, rodent control is maintained by the cats’ continued presence.
Many cats who roam outdoors may be owned and have a home right down to road, so monitor any cats you see for a few days to see if they appear to be actually lost or just making a visit to your backyard. Truly feral cats will live in colony near a consistent food source such as a dumpster. They will not let you approach them unless you have been feeding them for a while.
If you feed, don’t let them breed. Every year, GAHS takes in hundreds of kittens who are born to feral and stray mom cats. We want to reduce these numbers and the only way to do that is by sterilizing these cats.
If you know of a colony of cats who are producing kittens, please give us a call! We rent out humane traps for a $25 deposit fee, which is returned to you once you bring the trap back to us, and we can help get these cats sterilized through our affordable voucher program and on-site clinics. We’re working on a more active program to address these cats as funding is available. Want to get involved with this exciting effort? Reach out and get engaged as a volunteer to help with trapping and caregiving for these amazing cats.
There are several groups in our general area also working to help these unowned cats: