The Essentials of TNR

This guide will provide you with the resources you?ll need to undertake a trap-neuter-return project.

Ready to take on your first TNR (trap-neuter-return) project to help free-roaming cats? The following resource guide and checklist will help make your TNR efforts successful.


Is he really feral? Before you start your TNR project, you need to be sure that the cat you’ve found is truly feral and not someone’s pet. Cat Channel expert Becky Robinson of Alley Cat Allies tells you how to tell the difference.

Finding free or low-cost spay/neuter clinics. To find low-cost or free spay/neuter options in your area, contact your local feline rescue groups, Humane Society or SPCA, or visit Pets 911 website to search their national database.

Get advice or help from local feline advocates. Your local rescue groups and cat advocates will likely be able to loan you equipment, offer advice and support and maybe even help you with your endeavor. To find nearby rescue groups and local rescuers, check out the websites of Alley Cat Allies, Pets 911 (enter your zip code and click on “find shelters and rescues”) and Best Friends Animal Society.

Borrow or buy equipment. Contact local rescue groups, Humane Societies or SPCAs to see if they can loan you humane traps. If not, you can purchase equipment at the Tomahawk Live Trap website.

Get answers to all your feral cat questions. Both Best Friends Animal Society and Alley Cat Allies provide comprehensive guides to feral cats, including step-by-step trapping guidelines and how to provide TLC to TNR’d cats.

Use this checklist as a guide to see if you have everything you need for a TNR project.


  • A trap and line the bottom with newspaper or cardboard
  • Bait (such as wet food, tuna, etc)
  • A covering for the trap (such as a sheet or blanket)

Before trapping

  • Make an appointment at spay/neuter clinic
  • Plan transportation for the cats to be dropped-off, picked-up and later returned to their colony
  • Prepare a safe, dry, quiet indoor recovery location for the cats
  • Ensure that the cats have not been fed 24 hours prior to being trapped


  • Set the trap in a safe area and watch it from afar
  • Once the cat is trapped, cover the trap completely
  • Transport the cat to the spay/neuter clinic

After surgery

  • Keep the cat in a dry, safe indoor location and keep the cat in the trap at all times
  • Watch for signs of surgical complications or illness
  • Feed the cat 8 hours after surgery by carefully sliding food into the trap (but without allowing room for the cat to escape)
  • Once recovered, return the cat to the location where he was trapped

Cimeron Morrissey is an animal rescuer, an award-winning writer and Animal Planet’s 2007 Cat Hero of the Year. Using the steps and techniques listed above, she has successfully TNR’d over 300 cats.

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Cats · Lifestyle