Effect Of High-Impact Targeted Trap-Neuter-Return
This study targeted one low-income urban area within a large Florida county with a program to reduce the number of cats brought to the county shelter. Over a two-year period, residents were provided with education on the need for sterilization, free trapping and spay-neuter services, and counseling on cat-related problems. Social cats (mostly kittens) were offered for adoption, while others were returned to the community. Shelter cat intake was tracked by zip code, and dropped by 66% in the target area during the study period, compared to little change in the rest of the county.[Abstract excerpted from original source.]
“Approximately 2–3 million cats enter animal shelters annually in the United States. A large proportion of these are unowned community cats that have no one to reclaim them and may be too unsocialized for adoption. More than half of impounded cats are euthanased due to shelter crowding, shelter-acquired disease or feral behavior. Trap-neuter-return (TNR), an alternative to shelter impoundment, improves cat welfare and reduces the size of cat colonies, but has been regarded as too impractical to reduce cat populations on a larger scale or to limit shelter cat intake. The aim of this study was to assess the effect of TNR concentrated in a region of historically high cat impoundments in a Florida community. A 2-year program was implemented to capture and neuter at least 50% of the estimated community cats in a single 11.9 km2 zip code area, followed by return to the neighborhood or adoption. Trends in shelter cat intake from the target zip code were compared to the rest of the county.
A total of 2366 cats, representing approximately 54% of the projected community cat population in the targeted area, were captured for the TNR program over the 2-year study period. After 2 years, per capita shelter intake was 3.5-fold higher and per capita shelter euthanasia was 17.5-fold higher in the non-target area than in the target area. Shelter cat impoundment from the target area where 60 cats/1000 residents were neutered annually decreased by 66% during the 2-year study period, compared to a decrease of 12% in the non-target area, where only 12 cats/1000 residents were neutered annually. High-impact TNR combined with the adoption of socialized cats and nuisance resolution counseling for residents is an effective tool for reducing shelter cat intake.”