Over the past year, Gateway Pet Guardians has taken a new approach to controlling the homeless cat population in the Metro East. Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) specifically targets stray and feral cats—cats that otherwise could not be adopted out into a family home. In TNR, cats are humanely trapped and taken to a veterinarian (in our case, Carol House Quick Fix Pet Clinic) to be spayed/neutered and vaccinated. After recovery, the cats are returned to their home—their colony—outdoors. Cats are also eartipped, which is the universal symbol of a spayed/neutered cat. The whole process takes a total of two days.


Eartipped cat being returned to its colony

TNR improves the lives of feral cats, improves their relationships with the people who live near them, and decreases the size of colonies over time. TNR effectively controls cat population because it stops the breeding cycle of cats, therefore improving their lives while preventing reproduction. Over time, feral colonies of cats diminish.

But TNR is more than just controlling the population, it also improves the lives of cats within the colony. Mating behaviors cease, like roaming, yowling, spraying, and fighting. TNR relieves cats of the constant stresses of mating and pregnancy. Their physical health improves, enabling them to live long, healthy lives.

Through our community outreach work, we identified a strong need to control the cat population in the Metro East. Stray and feral cats reproduce at a very fast rate. In fact, the average cat has 1-8 kittens per litter and 2-3 litters per year, so if left unattended a single pair of cats and their kittens can produce as many as 420,000 kittens in just 7 years. You can see how a colony could get out of control quickly!

So far in 2016, we have TNR’ed 70 cats in our target area. This is roughly 50% of our total spay/neuters of animals in the community. We have partnered with several local businesses and residents who have identified the need for a humane method of control, including Centreville Police Department and Washington Park Fire and Police Departments. We are excited to have brought this program to the Metro East and are looking forward to seeing the results!