TNR stands for Trap Neuter Return of feral (aka wild, unowned) cats. TNR programs are extremely helpful in reducing the numbers of unowned cats in shelters as well as the numbers of cats that are euthanized in shelters. However, it takes some time. TNR is a special passion of mine. I have been working with a wonderful group within Central Pennsylvania called PAWS (pawsofpa.org). PAWS focuses on reducing pet overpopulation and homelessness with large-scale TNR clinics. The beauty of what PAWS does also lies in the fact that friendly “feral” cats and kittens brought through the clinic also find spots in their foster homes to be adopted out, becoming loved house-cats too. As their spay/neuter veterinarian and a private practice veterinarian, it is so exciting to see cats come through our veterinary practice that have paperwork indicating adoption through the PAWS program. It is great to see them “off the streets” and living the good life.
Today, we held a TNR clinic in Grantville, PA. PAWS has people who help to trap feral cats and facilitate transportation to the spay/neuter clinics. Each cat coming through the clinic receives a spay or neuter surgery under general anesthesia. A low dose of an injectable anesthesia induces the anesthetic state and then we use gas anesthesia to maintain the pet during the surgery. The cat’s ear is tipped – a procedure in which the tip of the left ear is excised – as a universal indicatior that this feral cat has been fixed and vaccinated.
Those deemed friendly enough for the adoption program are tested for FeLV/FIV and microchipped. Post-operatively, the cats each receive a rabies vaccination, distemper vaccination, injectable antibiotic, injectable dewormer, and a dose of flean and tick prevention. If there are any health issues such as an upper respiratory infection, wound, or skin infection, these are treated to the best of our ability in the wild cat. Some caretakers are great at mixing liquid antibiotics into the food to treat their illness for a longer period of time. The cats are monitored closely as they recover from anesthesia. Once sitting up and looking around, they are considered recovered and the transporter/caretaker is notified that their cat is ready for pickup.
I pride myself in having a low surgical complication rate. Our rate of anesthesia complication is less than 0.1%… as good (and in some cases better) as most primary care veterinarians. I can attribute this to my excellent team of support staff and vigilant monitoring. We truly do a good job at giving these unowned feral cats the best care possible at a reduced cost. If you ever get a chance to volunteer for such an event, I would highly recommend it. Not only will you be doing a great thing for the cats in your community but it is also a very rewarding opportunity.