Trap-Neuter-Return is a humane approach for feral cats

Feral cats live all over the country, in every landscape–urban and rural. They are members of the domestic cat species, but are not socialized to people. They live among their own in “colonies,” and unless neutered, those colonies grow. But what if there were no new kittens?

Alley Cat Allies endorses Trap-Neuter- Return, a program in which outdoor cats are humanely trapped and taken to a veterinarian to be vaccinated and neutered. Cats that are friendly toward humans and young kittens are adopted to good homes. Adult feral cats are identified by their ‘eartip’: while under anesthesia, the tip of their left ear is clipped. They are then released to their original colony site.

“Trap-Neuter-Return is the only humane program for feral cats,” says Becky Robinson, President of Alley Cat Allies. “Catch-and-kill is the traditional animal control approach, but it is proven to be unsuccessful because of the ‘vacuum effect’: more cats move in to take advantage of available resources and breed to capacity. While catch-and-kill is an endless cycle, Trap-Neuter-Return gets to the root of the issue – cats live healthier lives without kittens.”

If you are interested in hands-on care for cats in your neighborhood and need advice, you can access a list of Feral Friends—organizations, veterinarians, and individuals in the greater Baltimore area with feral cat and Trap-Neuter-Return experience – at

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