TNRM (Trap-Nueter-Return-Monitor) is the preferred method of feral cat population control by national organizations such as the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Humane Society of the United States, as well as our local Washoe County Regional Animal Services. To learn more about feral cats, including cat advocacy the science behind TNRM, click here.

Found a litter of orphaned kittens? Here is what to do.

What is a Feral Cat? 

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A "feral" cat is unsocialized to humans, meaning that they tend to be fearful of people and keep their distance. While they live outside human homes and exhibit wild behavior, feral cats are not wildlife. The vast majority rely on some form of human-based food source for their sustenance, whether it's a caretaker who feeds daily, a dumpster behind a supermarket, or scraps left on fishing docks. Very few subsist on hunting alone.

"Feral" describes behavior, not a biological trait. The same cat can be feral and not feral at different points in her life. An outdoor kitten may be born feral, taken indoors, socialized, and adopted out as a friendly pet. Or an adult cat may be a pet for years then become lost and, after a few months of living on his own, start to act unsocialized. “Feral” is not a black or white quality, but different cats will be feral to different degrees. Cats that are not socialized to people within the first 10 weeks of their life are unlikely to ever be successful indoor pets. 

If a cat is truly feral, the most compassionate choice is to let him live in his outdoor home. Trying to force him to exist indoors as a pet will do nothing but cause harm to the cat, your home, and you.

Why Not Just Get Rid of Them? 

Not all cats that are seen outside are feral. Some are indoor/outdoor pets, while others still might be lost. For this reason, they are all jointly referred to as “free-roaming cats.”

Most free-roaming cats are not spayed or neutered, and so they contribute every year to the births (and deaths) of countless kittens. The exploding population of free-roaming cats in every community across the world is a man-made problem that requires man-made solutions. For the same reason that it is illegal to catch and remove “pests” such as squirrels, raccoons, oppossums, etc., catch-and-kill or catch-and-remove is not a solution to free-roaming cat populations.

The only effective and humane solution to this problem is spaying/neutering these cats and allowing them to continue living out their lives outside, but this only works if the community at large is involved and commits to trapping as many cats in the area as possible. The people in the best position to do this are those that the cats are familiar with.

Many shelters across the nation euthanize all “feral” (or simply scared and “unfriendly”) cats upon intake due to a lack of space and inability to adopt them out as pets, but Trap-Neuter-Return and Barn Cat Adoption Programs respect a feral cat's inner needs without ending their lives.

By neutering and vaccinating the cats, providing food, water, and shelter, and maintaining communication with NHS, a caretaker plays a role most supportive of feral cats by giving them the opportunity to live amongst their own, be free, and answer to their own unique natures. And just like the original wildcats that first started living near grain silos, they can provide amazing non-toxic, natural pest control for their home territory.

What it Means to Trap, Neuter, and Return a Feral Cat 

Unlike cats eligible for our Barn Cat Adoption Program, feral cats that are Trapped, Neutered, and Returned have an outdoor home with which they are familiar and strongly attached. Many cats removed from their home and relocated will try to find their way back, especially if they are not carefully acclimated. Their efforts can often end tragically.

Through our LOW-COST Trap-Neuter-Return clinic, Nevada Humane Society helps the community by spaying/neutering, vaccinating, ear-tipping for identification, and providing any other basic medical care to any free-roaming cat brought to our clinic on our specific days (currently by appointment). Please see our Clinic page for more information.

Nevada Humane Society also offers high-quality traps that can be loaned out to members of the community. We require a deposit of $75 for each trap, which will not be charged or collected unless a trap is lost or damaged and needs to be replaced. Please see our Trap Rental page for more information. 

The only way to effectively address free-roaming cat populations is for there to be community effort and support. Trapping a few cats here and there will absolutely improve the quality of life for every one of those cats and make them less likely to be a nuisance, but unless the majority of a colony is spayed/neutered and the colonies bordering them are as well, cats will continue to roam, urine-mark, fight, mate, and reproduce. For large colonies, this will look like a multi-week, concentrated effort to trap every cat in that colony, but we rely heavily on people in the local neighborhoods to take part in their own solutions. TNR Coordinators are prepared to guide local trappers and caretakers to engage in meaningful, large-scale trapping whenever possible. It is through these partnerships and joint efforts that we can reduce the free-roaming cat population and make sure that all cats are cared and accounted for.

Do You FIV/FeLV Test Feral Cats? 

In general, no. Here is why

But the Cats Are a Nuisance! 

No one can pretend that cats aren’t capable of being a nuisance in the area. Someone doesn’t need to hate cats to hate their urine and feces in their yards, or to hate their yowling and fighting every night. Luckily, TNRM helps to resolve these issues. A neutered cat is less likely to roam very far from their home and will not spend their time fighting, mating, yowling, or urine-marking.

The goal of TNRM is to reduce the number of cats outside, which is the goal of anyone else who finds issue with those same cats. We can all come together to address this problem, and community-wide TNRM is the only proven long-term solution for free-roaming cat populations.

At the end of the day, the options are either to:

1) Do nothing;

2) Remove or kill the cats and allow the same issue to take place over and over again in the coming years (often at exorbitant taxpayer and personal cost); or

3) Allow and assist with TNRM and see what happens.

Nevada Humane Society is not here to force anyone to love or care for cats. We are here to help find solutions to our pet overpopulation problems, and to work together with our community.

It is perfectly reasonable to not want free-roaming cats in your yard. Here are some suggestions on things to do to make your yard unpleasant for cats. The idea is to break the habit of going in your yard, which takes time; think of it like going to your favorite hangout, and realizing it smells bad or is playing bad music. You’ll probably still go back, because you’re used to going back. But if it still smells bad or has bad music every time you go, you’ll stop going at some point.

Nevada Humane Society’s TNRM Program hopes to be able to provide deterrents for the community in the near future, in the same way that we loan out traps for TNRM.

How Can I Help? 

Thank you for your interest in helping our community cats! There are multitudes of ways that our community can help, many of which never involve directly interacting with the cats themselves.

NHS relies on the commitment of our volunteers, some of which engage in trapping, transporting, and caring for feral cats, but also those who help otherwise. Here are just a few ways that you can help the cats in your community as a Nevada Humane Society Volunteer!

- Help our clinic check cats in and out and enter data

- Cut and sew trap covers/bottoms to help keep the cats safe

- Engage and educate the community by answering phone calls and emails, reaching out to other supporters, and canvassing areas for more cats to help

- Find homes for displaced feral cats with our Barn Cat Adoption Program

- Build cat shelters and feeding stations to help colony caretakers provide clean, humane, and unobtrusive care for outdoor cats

- Assist disgruntled community members in keeping cats out of their yards by donating supplies.

- Sponsor spay/neuter surgeries

- Sponsor displaced feral cats by providing food, litter, and other supplies to help them acclimate to their new homes

- Donate traps, XL wire dog crates, and medium-sized carriers for trapping efforts

- Donate dry and wet cat food to help colony caretakers that are engaging in TNRM

- Transport supplies to dedicated colony caretakers in our community

- Foster semi-feral kittens to socialize them and adopt them out to loving homes

- Provide temperate garage space for cats to be held in their traps before/after surgery

There is nothing too little or too great, all that matters is a desire to help these cats and limit the free-roaming cat population! If you’re interested in finding a way to help support this cause, please reach out to our TNR Coordinators at 775-856-2000 ext. 337 or email TNR@nevadahumanesociety.org for more information.