Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR)

Download the leaflet on TNR and community cats

There were as many as 100,000 feral and stray cats in the Toronto area. According to the Toronto Humane Society, “euthanasia due to homelessness is the largest cause of death in cats.”[1]

Since then we have made tremendous progress and the estimated number of feral cats is now about 17,000.

All cats are worth saving.

Trap-Neuter-Return-Monitor (referred to as both TNRM or just TNR), is a program designed to manage the overpopulation of cats and reduce rates of euthanization. Cats are humanely trapped, sterilized (females are spayed and males are neutered), vaccines are administered (for examples, rabies shots), returned to their outdoor colonies, and monitored. Monitoring includes feeding and ensuring the cats do not become ill or injured.

Over time, the cat colony population will reduce.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why do you return cats to their outdoor colonies? Why not just adopt them to good homes?

Feral cats (unlike stray cats) are not good candidates for adoption unless trapped or caught at a very young age (under 2 months, 3 months in extreme cases) as they are fearful of humans and generally do not make good companions in a home situation. Feral cats are the offspring of stray domestic cats that were not spayed or neutered.

  1. Why are the cat’s ears clipped?

This practice is called “ear tipping” and it is a universal sign that a feral cat has been sterilized. Because there are so many feral cats, it’s hard to keep track of which cat has already been sterilized. While the cat is under anesthetic for their sterilization surgery, a quarter inch of the left ear is clipped in a short and painless procedure. Cats that have been ear tipped do not show signs of distress following the procedure, like they do with declawing.

  1. Does TNR even work? I see cats in my neighbourhood all the time.

Yes. Numerous research studies support the TNR method for reducing cat populations between 16 and 66 per cent, which means fewer cats being euthanized each year.[2] It also means healthier, friendlier cats in your neighbourhood who have been vaccinated to prevent the spread of disease.

  1. How can I support TNR?

Like many other rescue organizations, AVA supports and is actively involved in TNR programs. If you think you can help, please contact us. We are always looking for people to help humanely trap vulnerable cats, drive cats to the vet for their spay/neuter appointment and monitor their progress after they are returned to their colonies.

Spay/neuter services for stray and feral cats

The following organizations offer sterilization clinics for Toronto’s stray and feral cats:

Learn more about colonies and how to get involved in TNRM

Below are helpful resources to get you on the road to learning more about colony caretaking and the TNR program. See the Maintaining a neighbourhood cat colony page for information about caretaking.