What is TNR?
In Tabitha and Dundee: A Story of Friendship the author mentions that Yvette catches many of the cats in her yard and take them to the vet. What were they doing? TNR. TNR stands for Trap-Neuter-Return, a process by which loving humans catch feral cats in humane traps, get them vaccinated and spayed/neutered then return them to their home outside. Feral cats—like Tabitha, Fred and Oreo are cats who are born outside. They are not socialized to humans at a young age, and thus are not adapted to life inside.
TNR has been gaining popularity in communities around the world for years. Feral cats generally form colonies, like those Yvette found in her back yard, to help each other survive. Colonies generally form around a food source whether that is someone feeding them or raiding a garbage can. Colonies of cats will continue to grow as long as the cats in the colony are not spayed or neutered. Cats are able to have their first litter as early as 4 months old, and can have multiple litters in one year. That can be a lot of kittens! TNR is the best way to reduce the number of cats born each year and to reduce the population of cats over time.
TNR is important because there are simply too many cats and not enough homes for them all. TNR is the best way to reduce the number of unwanted cats, and reduce the number of cats found outside. Since feral cats are not acclimatized to humans or life indoors, they are not adoptable. Every feral cat who enters into a shelter or animal control facility takes a home away from an adoptable cat. Every litter of kittens born to a feral mom takes away a home from an adult.
Tabitha was a wonderful exception. Along with Fred and Oreo, she was trapped for TNR when Yvette first noticed the cats in her yard. When she noticed Tabitha was sick she lovingly brought her inside to care for her. With lots of love and patience, and the love of Dundee Boy, Tabitha learned to feel safe inside. Even though Tabitha has adapted to life indoors, she is still nervous around people. If you are caring for a cat outside or are considering letting a feral cat inside, make sure you are up for the commitment. It will take lots of patience, and many months of love to teach an outdoor cat that humans and life inside are ok.
For more information about TNR and feral cats, please visit Alley Cat Allies, the leaders in advocating for feral cats and TNR.
TNR in Chicago
There are three low cost spay/neuter clinics in Chicago. These clinics all operate differently and have different prices. Below is the list:
Anti-Cruelty Society Veterinary Clinic is located at 157 W. Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60654. Call to schedule your appointment: (312) 644-8338, ext 340.