500 Legacy Farms North, Hopkinton MA 01748 508-435-6938

There are more than 400,000 stray cats in Massachusetts alone, according to the Humane Society of the U.S.

Feral cats & kittens

Spaying and neutering pets is one of the most important ways we can curb animal overpopulation and ensure the humane treatment of animals.

There are organizations that can assist with trapping, neutering/spaying, and returning (TNR) feral cats to their colony. This is the most humane and effective way to combat feral overpopulation while improving the cats’ overall health and well being. 

What is a feral cat?

Feral cats are cats that are either born in the wild or were abandoned and reverted to a wild state. Stray cats are not considered feral unless you cannot touch or pick them up. Feral cats will usually run away from you when approached. Feral cats do not live in the house with human contact. Once kittens reach about eight weeks of age, they become very difficult to socialize and are likely to remain feral. If we can get them between five and seven weeks, they have a great chance of finding a home.

What is Trap-Neuter-Return?

(Trap-Neuter-Return) TNR is the process whereby feral and stray cats are humanely trapped, spayed or neutered and vaccinated by a veterinarian, and then released back to their original locations after recovering from surgery. In addition, the left ear is cropped or “tipped” indicating that the cat has been sterilized.

Why TNR works?

  • Scientific Studies Prove It. Scientific studies prove that TNR is the most effective and humane way to manage feral cats.
  • Avoid the Vacuum Effect. The vacuum effect is the act of other stray/feral cats moving into a vacated colony after the cats of that colony have been removed or re-located. Euthanizing and/or relocation often do not work for this reason, especially in areas like Lowell where the feral population is quite prevalent.
  • TNR Improves Cats’ Overall Health and Well Being. Documented cases have shown that feral cats become healthier and gain weight after TNR. In addition, spaying helps female cats to avoid certain reproductive diseases. And since they are vaccinated during the TNR process, fatal diseases such as rabies and distemper are prevented altogether.
  • Colony Population Decreases over Time. Once a colony has been 100% TNR’d, the population of that colony has been shown to decrease over time. However, effective colony management is required in order to quickly spay/neuter and vaccinate any newcomers to the group.
  • Benefits to the Community. TNR programs are not only humane, but they also save the local community and authorities precious time and money that would otherwise be used to trap and euthanize feral cats.
  • TNR’d Cats Make Better Neighbors. Ever notice how feral cats love to emit that lovely, odorous spray? This behavior ends after TNR (except in rare cases) and in addition, fighting over mates is no longer an issue.

Learn more about feral cats.

Photo courtesy of A. Zakharova