Trap Neuter Return (TNR)

Trap-Neuter-Return, commonly referred to as 'TNR,' is the method preferred by Cats Protection to effectively and humanely control feral cat populations. Once a colony has been identified, our TNR volunteers trap the cats and kittens by setting up humane traps – similar to cages – and safely capture feral cats and take them to be neutered. This is mainly done during the evening and the traps are collected quickly to minimise stress to the cat.

This can be hard work; involving a lot of patient waiting and test of wills against these naturally wary creatures which have had little or no human contact.

The trapped cats are taken swiftly to a veterinary surgery to be neutered, a straightforward procedure which will prevent the cat from breeding. At the same time, they will also have their ear ‘tipped’ – where between half and one cm of the tip of the left ear is removed under anaesthetic. This serves as a permanent visual mark from a distance to show the cat has been neutered, to prevent the same cat being trapped for neutering in future. After neutering, the cats will be returned back to their territory if those locations are deemed unsafe or otherwise inappropriate, the feral cats are relocated. Trapping and neutering a large feral colony can take weeks and regular monitoring is needed to make sure that no cats are missed. Ideally, any breeding females are trapped and neutered first, to avoid growth in colony size while the process is taking place.

Experience has shown us that feral cats we have neutered and released back into their environment rapidly improve in health, condition and life expectancy. As they no longer have to spend their lives following the instinct to breed, very often they do become more approachable and
relaxed about life. Gone is the need to spend vast amounts of energy in territory fights
and protecting mates, so they actually don’t need as much food.

Trap neuter return is the most humane, effective and financially sustainable strategy for controlling feral cat populations.


If you know of, or are feeding a group of wild cats and would like us to help, please contact us. We need to be granted access to trap in the cats territory. This usually means permission of the land owner or farmer. Once we have trapped and neutered a colony, you must be prepared to accept them back if no alternative or better living quarters can be found for them. And you must be prepared to continue to feed and watch over them and notify us of any problems in the future.