The Practice and Stages of Trap/Neuter/Return
The mission of GNHCP is to seek to end the suffering of feral, stray and abandoned cats through the practice of trap/neuter/return (t/n/r) but also to educate our community ethically about the importance of animal welfare. The cause of the feral cat population is mostly due to irresponsible pet owners whose unsterilized cats and kittens were permitted to roam or who were abandoned and left to fend for themselves. Trap/neuter/return is recognized as the most effective and humane solution to reducing feral cat populations. It is also the most cost-effective. Our t/n/r program works with people who are feeding feral cats and colony managers to ensure that feral cats are vaccinated and spayed or neutered and then returned to their home environment. We also provide pre- and post-operative care for the cats involved.
Last year, GNHCP spayed or neutered 510 cats all across Connecticut, and provided additional support to 41 cats.
Cats assisted by GNHCP in 2016
A feral cat is one who is an offspring of a domestic cat and has lived its whole life with little or no human contact. Feral cats often live in parking lots, abandoned buildings or near dumpsters and are sometimes perceived as "wild" or a threat to humans. Because they are exposed to harsh weather, their lives are compromised and shortened. Feral cats form a group referred to as a "colony". A feral cat is one who is an offspring of a domestic cat and has lived its whole life with little or no human contact. Feral cats often live in parking lots, abandoned buildings or near dumpsters and are sometimes perceived as "wild" or a threat to humans. Because they are exposed to harsh weather, their lives are compromised and shortened.
Feral cats form a group which is referred to as a "colony". It is important to remember that a feral cat could have once been someone's pet who has since been abandoned or become lost. As human contact decreases, the cat reverts to an unsocialized state and must learn how to fend for food and shelter. If not spayed, females live their lives hungry and pregnant. Most of their kittens do not survive. If not neutered, males roam to find a female in heat and fight with other unneutered males trying to protect their territory. It is important to humanely trap feral cats to vaccinate and sterilize them to prevent the birth of future generations and to return the cats to their colony once they are sterilized. Removal of feral cats allows unneutered cats looking for mates to join the colony. This perpetuates the cycle of overpopulation and suffering. Once all of the cats in a colony are sterilized, the colony becomes "managed" and no new cats enter or are born.
The trap/neuter/return program is the most humane and effective way to control the feral cat population. It has been used successfully in the United States and abroad and has become the preferred method for control of feral cat populations in forward-thinking countries such as England and Denmark. The trap/neuter/return program is also more cost- effective than trapping and euthanizing feral cats.
A vaccinated and sterilized colony of feral cats poses no rabies threat to humans and will deter unsterilized cats from moving into the colony. In addition, by eliminating the potential for mating, fighting, spraying and wandering are reduced and the overall health of the cats is improved.
The positive aspects of the colony, including rodent control, are still intact.