Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) is an important part of controlling pet overpopulation in Ontario. Monica Seto, Manager of feral cat programs and Shelter Health and Wellness at the Ontario SPCA shares what TNR is and how you can get involved.
Seto says Trap-Neuter-Return, or TNR, is the process of trapping feral cats and bringing them to a veterinarian to be spayed/neutered, then returning them to their original habitat. Feral cats are returned outside because she says they would be terrified in a home or shelter.
With that being said, Seto says any young kittens, or cats (friendly strays) that have a good chance at being properly socialized are always encouraged to be pulled from the colony in an attempt to be adopted and placed into a home.
“True feral cats do not belong and do not do well in a household or shelter environment,” she says, “The longer these cats have lived outside with little human contact, the more chance they have to reverting back to their ‘wild’ state.”
Ideally, ferals are returned to their original territory, Seto says, if they’re healthy and doing well where they are. She says then you can provide proper food and proper shelter to help manage the colony.
Spaying/neutering ferals is important, Seto says, for both short-term and long-term effects.
“Because feral cats are such a big issue everywhere, the most humane way to tackle the situation is by trying to stabilize the population and eventually have them die off by natural attrition. We can start to accomplish this by spaying/neutering,” she says.
Available supports for feral cat caregivers
The Ontario SPCA offers support to feral cat care givers in a number of ways, one of which is a feral trap depot. To participate, Seto says she requires people to take the Toronto Feral cat workshop offered downtown once a month. For details on dates and locations visit feraltoronto.com. Traps are lent out at no cost, for no specific time period, and you can contact Seto for an appointment – firstname.lastname@example.org
The Ontario SPCA also has three high-volume, spay-neuter services for dogs and cats. Seto says all three locations accept feral cats any day they’re open. To find out particulars as to what that process is, Seto says to speak with the Manager at the clinic closest to you.
The City of Toronto offers free feral services, Seto says, details about which can also be found on feraltoronto.com. She says to check the stipulations on the various programs as some only apply to Toronto residents.
“In order to really make a difference, the spaying/neutering of the cats is always top priority,” she says, “and really educating yourself on why feral cats don’t belong in the shelter system, or why they don’t belong in a home situation and why they’re best off being placed back in their territory where they were found.”