Starting by August 2023
What is Trap-Neuter-Return?
In a Trap-Neuter-Return program, community cats are humanely trapped (with box traps), brought to a veterinarian to be spayed or neutered, vaccinated, eartipped (the universal sign that a community cat has been neutered and vaccinated), and then returned to their outdoor home.
Why not catch and kill?
For more than a century, the American shelter and animal control system has been relying on catching and killing outdoor cats to control their population. This approach continues to fail, and the number of outdoor cats increases despite the fact that millions of vibrant, healthy outdoor cats are killed each year. Taxpayer money that funds shelters and animal control agencies is wasted on an endless cycle of trapping and killing. Increasingly, the public believes that the money spent on killing could and should be re-allocated to programs that help animals.
With catch and kill policies, vaccinated and neutered cats are removed from an area. But that only creates a vacuum in the environment, where new cats move in to take advantage of available resources. The new cats breed and the cat population grows. Catch and kill policies aren’t just cruel and ineffective, they go against what the public really wants: humane approaches to cats.
How does this help my feral situation and make it better for the feral/community cats?
TNR stabilizes community cat populations by stopping the breeding cycle. TNR improves cats’ lives and benefits public health by relieving them of the constant stresses of mating and pregnancy and vaccinating them against rabies. TNR stops disruptive mating behaviors like yowling, spraying, roaming, and fighting so cats and people can coexist peacefully. It stabilizes populations at manageable levels, by stopping the reproductive cycle. Over time, the natural cycle of attrition will maintain the stable numbers and any new cats to the colony will be sterilized. Lastly, TNR saves taxpayer’s money by reducing shelter intake, shelter euthanasia, and calls of concern to animal control.
How does the program work in Ashe County right now?
Since January 2023 we have had three trappers in the Jefferson and West Jefferson area only working on trapping feral and community cats to have them neutered, vaccinated and returned to their colony. The trappers start setting up traps up to two days before the neuter appointment and drive back to trapping site several times a day to see if they have caught any cats. This requires up to 12 trips over two days to the trapping site, day and night. Once caught the cats are kept in a warm, safe, secure location usually a garage or shed and given food and water up until the night before the appointment. The day of the appointment they are picked up by the volunteer driver that takes them to the spay/neuter clinic two hours away. The cats will remain most of the day, until they return in the afternoon when the volunteer driver brings them back to the trapper. That night the cats spend one more night in a warm, safe secure place to recover and released the next day. The citizen caretakers at the original site, that are usually the landowner, make sure the colony of cats are fed daily, and given water and shelter for the rest of their lives.
How will the new program help citizens with feral cats work in the near future?
As mentioned above, currently we are limited to West Jefferson and Jefferson with our own trappers, however there are ways that citizens can help stop the unwanted litters and gradually reduce their feral population in their own area.
Ashe Humane Society is prepared to help citizens in cooperation with Ashe County Animal Control. ACAC can supply the citizens with humane cat traps and give advice how to set up the traps and lure the cats in the trap. Animal Control can also set you up with appointments with the monthly Foothills Spay and Neuter Transport Clinic, Right now it is up to citizens to foot the bill for each feral cat spay and neuter, ear tipping and rabies shot. ($40).
In July or August Ashe Humane Society will be paying 100% of the bill for all feral cats going to the Foothills Spay and Neuter Transport Clinic!!!