The results of new study on the effectiveness of trap-neuter-return (TNR) support what previous studies have already shown...that TNR does effectively reduce feral cat populations. A University of Florida study lead by Dr. Julie Levy found that spaying or neutering community cats in an area of high animal-control impoundments led to a dramatic decline in the number of cats who were admitted to and euthanized by the local shelter.
“We investigated whether we ever could neuter enough cats to slow their intake into animal control,” said Dr. Julie Levy, the Maddie’s professor of shelter medicine at the Univ. of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine.
The two-year study was conducted in an area of Alachua County adjacent to the University of Florida campus and included a business district, several residential neighborhoods, a mobile home park, two homeless shelters, industrial parks, and a veterinary clinic. During the study, 2,366 community cats were TNR'd, which is estimated to be about 54 percent of the feral cat population in the targeted area. Most of the cats were returned to the site, with some being adopted.
The results after two years...the animal control intake for cats in that targeted area decreased by 70 percent and the shelter euthanasia rate for cats dropped by 95 percent! For the entire county, this TNR project reduced cat intake by animal control by 13 percent and shelter euthanasia rates by 30 percent.
And although community cats were the focus of the study, the shelter intake rates for dogs also declined in the targeted area. “That was just an extra win,” Dr. Levy said. “As we went door-to-door, we talked to people about how to care for all their animals, including other resources available for their pets.”
Dr. Levy continued by saying, “The animal welfare community as a whole has realized that we can’t be solely shelter-centric. The next step in our work is to connect with communities, find out their needs and how we can help.” And that is exactly what TNR programs strive to do...to not only help cats but to help the community by providing a vital service and much-needed education.
Individuals are interested in getting involved, supporting their neighborhood, and helping animals. TNR is the catalyst we need to strengthen community involvement and save the lives of millions of animals who are killed each year in shelters across the country. For more information on helping community cats, please visit our website.