A Positive Grade for TNR

Reproduced from CatWatch (Vol. 7, No. 5, May 2003), a newsletter from Cornell University, College of Veterinary Medicine, Ithaca, NY.

As a concept, TNR (for trap-neuter-return) sounded like a workable solution to the feline overpopulation problem: Round up all the homeless, free-roaming cats in a community; spay or neuter them in veterinary clinics; and turn them loose where they were found.  Indeed, more than 1,000 California veterinarians cooperated to “TNR” some 170,000 free-roaming cats between 1999 and 2002.

But no one knew if TNR really worked in the long run – until researchers tracked a population of free-roaming cats around Orlando, Florida, throughout their natural lives.  The results of the Florida study, as reported in the Journal of the American Veterinary Association (Vol. 222, No. 1), should be gratifying to advocates of TNR. 

When the study on the campus of the University of Central Florida began in 1991, more than half of the 155 free-roaming cats were kittens.  By 1996, the number of free-roaming cats had decreased to 68, and at the end of the study, in 2002, there were only 23.  Researchers gave this accounting: Forty-seven percent of the original 155 had been adopted, 15 percent remained on the site, 11 percent were euthanized by veterinarians because of untreatable disease or accidents, six percent had died and 16 percent apparently moved off campus.  Significantly, there were no kittens after 1995.

The lead author of the article, Julie Levy, DVM, PhD, credited the work of a student group called “Friends of Campus Cats” and added: “The results of our study indicated that long-term reduction of free-roaming cat numbers is feasible by TNR.”

Copyright 2003 CatWatch.  Reprinted with permission, Englander Communications, LLC.  For subscription and other information, call (800) 424-7887.
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