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What is Trap-Neuter-Return, and how is it helping cats in Richmond?

06 November 2020
What is Trap-Neuter-Return, and how is it helping cats in Richmond?

What is Trap-Neuter-Return and why do we do it?

Unneutered, stray cats tend to breed very quickly, which can lead to large colonies of cats setting up home in a small area. With many cats using the same resources, the area quickly becomes dirty and uninhabitable, leading to health issues for all the cats living there. 

These cats need medical care, but because they are usually unsocialised and afraid of humans they won’t freely accept help. This means we have to trap them, in a process we refer to as Trap-Neuter-Return (‘TNR’). It is one of the most effective and humane ways to manage feral, out-of-control cat populations.

TNR involves trapping the cats in cages, taking them to a vet to be neutered and treated for any medical issues, and then safely returning them to their outdoor homes. Neutering prevents cats from breeding, allowing them to live a healthier and less stressful life, where they are not competing over food or territory. It’s a challenging process, but it’s also very rewarding. You can find out more about feral cats and TNR here.

TNR at Cats Protection Richmond Branch

For over a year, the volunteers at Cats Protection Richmond Branch have been tackling a colony of feral and stray cats who have set up home across gardens in West London.

The colony started when two unneutered, unsocialised female kittens showed up and became pregnant by one of the many unneutered stray Tom cats that were already in the area. It didn’t take long before two cats became 20, and then more...

These cats are riddled with fleas and worms, and many are suffering with cat-flu. Our volunteers have been working hard to treat the poorly cats, and neuter them to stop the colony growing any larger. Access issues and limited resources mean that we haven’t managed to treat the whole colony yet, but we are making good progress!

Forest and Damson
Forest (left) and Damson (right) are two of the kittens we found suffering from cat-flu, but made a fantastic recovery all thanks to their amazing foster mum

Can the cats ever be domesticated?

Yes! While treating the colony mentioned above, we found some cats who aren’t feral or are still young enough to be socialised.

Meet the cats

  • Shae, Harry and Ru are three-week-old kittens who were covered in fleas, underweight and very poorly when we found them, along with their mother. They needed round-the-clock care from their dedicated fosterer, including feeding every 2-3 hours. Now they are gorgeous, happy, healthy kittens!
  • Forest and Damson are slightly older kittens who were suffering with cat-flu. Despite being feral, they were so poorly and low in energy that we were able to handle them. By the time they recovered, they decided that humans aren’t so bad after all – thanks to their brilliant fosterer at Cats Protection Epsom Branch.
  • Rusty is an older cat who had sadly been left behind when someone moved away. When we came to trap him, he was very friendly and actually walked straight into the carrier for us, tempted by some food. We think he is the dad of many of the colony’s cats, and he was very poorly when we found him. We rushed him to the vet and when he was well enough we took him to the same Epsom Branch fosterer, where he has made a great recovery.

All these cats are now in their forever homes!

Before and after: Rusty's transformation from when we found him to after his treatment. "His progress was phenomenal," said his foster mum.

Would you like to help?

If you are interested in getting involved with TNR in your local area, please do get in touch with your nearest Cats Protection branch. We provide training and support, and you will never be expected to undertake TNR projects alone. You can find out more about feral cats and TNR here

Or, if you would like to donate towards our work and the cats’ much-needed vet treatment, please click here to donate to Richmond Branch, and here to donate to Epsom Branch.