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Community Cats

Community cat programs (CCPs) are an integral part of operations for animal shelters. Trap-neuter-vaccinate-return (TNVR) provides an immediate, lasting response for cats in and out of shelters, frees up valuable resources and increases adoption of cats not eligible for return.  

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Are there any tools to help keep community cats out of designated areas?

Humane outdoor cat deterrents are effective and readily accessible. There are numerous cat deterrents available on the market today.

Community Cats can be found just about everywhere that people live. These outdoor, free-roaming cats live in and are cared for by community members — hence the term “community cats.” 

For decades, community cats have been trapped and killed in a failed attempt at population management. Using this trap-and-kill approach is not only ineffective at reducing outdoor cat populations, but it’s also a burden on animal shelters by adding to their intake numbers and the number of animals killed.

Thankfully, this ineffective, expensive, and inhumane approach to managing community cats is steadily being replaced with progressive community cat programs in shelters across the country. At the heart of all community cat programs is a simple, humane philosophy: Cats are accepted members of many communities, and they are often valued and cared for by multiple residents. 

The best way to manage the community cat population is to humanely trap them and then vaccinate, spay or neuter, and return them to their outdoor homes. This method, called trap-neuter-vaccinate-return (TNVR) — also known as trap-neuter-release (TNR) — stops the cats from breeding, respects the bond that caregivers have with the cats, and reserves limited shelter space for cats without such an option. 


You can help out by donating to SPCA Northeastern Community Cat TNVR Program. 

Every penny donated through this page goes directly to the TNVR Community Cat Program to stop the suffering and cruelty of an exploding feral cat population.

Please take a moment and donate. Your gift, no matter the size, will make an enormous difference.


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What does TNVR stand for?

TNVR stands for trap-neuter-vaccinate-return. Some community cat programs refer to it as TNR, meaning trap-neuter-return or trap-neuter-release.

What is the TNVR method?

Here's how TNVR works:

  1. Community cats are trapped in humane cat traps, either by volunteers or staff who are part of a TNVR program.

  2. The cats are brought to a veterinarian, who examines them for overall health, spays or neuters them, and vaccinates them. Best Friends encourages all TNVR programs to vaccinate cats for FVRCP and rabies, even though rabies in cats is rare.

  3. The vet also removes a tiny portion of the tip of one of the cat’s ears, a painless procedure that indicates that the cat has been spayed or neutered and doesn’t need to be trapped again.

  4. The cats are then returned to their outdoor homes to continue their lives.

Benefits of TNVR for community cats

These are some key benefits of trap-neuter-vaccinate-return for community cats:

  • Because many of them aren’t sociable with humans and therefore aren’t good candidates for adoption, community cats are at great risk of being killed if they end up in shelters. Cats who go through a TNVR program are sterilized and then returned to the locations where they were trapped.

  • Unaltered cats often exhibit nuisance behaviors such as spraying, fighting, howling, and roaming. Spaying and neutering help to reduce those behaviors.

  • TNVR helps keep cats healthy because the cats are usually vaccinated as part of the TNVR program, fighting among cats is reduced, and spayed cats aren’t having litter after litter of kittens.

  • Removing community cats from their location can separate people from their pet cats, who might have been mistaken for unowned outdoor cats. Also, removing cats doesn’t address concerns in a meaningful way and can create space for more unaltered and unvaccinated cats to move into the area. TNVR stabilizes the cat population, which then leads to a reduction in the population over time.

Following recovery, the cats are returned to the location where they were humanely trapped to live out their lives.

TNVR is a key component of  a comprehensive community cat program, along with community outreach and nuisance mitigation techniques. Community cat programs are the most humane and effective way to manage outdoor cat populations while also reducing their potential impacts on wildlife populations and public health.

What is the primary benefit of TNVR?

In the long term, targeted TNVR can lower the number of cats in the community more effectively than trap-and-kill. TNVR provides a non-lethal, humane way to effectively manage community cat populations while also addressing common nuisance behaviors. Several studies have shown that TNVR programs can decrease and sometimes eliminate outdoor cat populations over time by reducing the breeding population.

ted, and returned. In a well-managed TNVR program, critical data is collected that can be used when seeking grant funding to expand the program.

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