Community Cat Program

What is Trap, Neuter, Vaccinate, Return?

Trap, Neuter, Vaccinate, Return (TNVR) is a humane practice of decreasing community cat impact.

First, a community cat is trapped in a humane cage by a member of the public (usually a caretaker, a neighbor, or someone who has an interest in reducing the number of community cats in their neighborhood). This effort can be coordinated through community outreach groups, clinics, or the Lawrence Humane Society, and does not always require Animal Control involvement.

Second, the cat is taken to an organization such as the Lawrence Humane Society or a veterinary clinic that will perform surgery and administer vaccinations. There the cat is inspected to make sure it is a Community Cat and not simply an owned outdoor cat. Then, the cat is vaccinated, altered, and ear-tipped. Finally, the cat is returned to its colony.

Who will provide the TNVR services?

TNVR services may be provided by any veterinary clinic, the Cat Clinic, the Lawrence Humane Society, or any organization outside of the city of Lawrence. This service is provided at the discretion of the clinic or organization, and fees may vary. This is not a taxpayer-funded initiative and the change in the ordinance is only for allowing the practice, not making it something residents must engage in.

Who is responsible for trapping?

For TNVR with the Lawrence Humane Society, the caregiver (defined as who is feeding the cat) is responsible for initiating the TNVR process. The caregiver will set traps, coordinate vetting services, and return cats to their colony location. Lawrence Humane Society will provide support through volunteers and clinic services as needed.

Where do I get traps?

You can provide your own, or rent traps from the Lawrence Humane Society.

What is ear-tipping?

Ear-tipping is a humane way of signaling that cat has already been through the TNVR process. While the cat is being fixed the veterinarian will remove the tip of the cat’s ear. Ear-tipping prevents a cat from being seized and impounded multiple times, because the animal is thereafter universally recognized as a community cat.

Where are the cats returned to?

Community cats will be returned to their colonies as soon as possible after their surgery. Returning them back to their colony will prevent the colony from filling the void with another community cat.

What if someone doesn’t want Community Cats near their property?

You can remove the food source and eliminate shelter access. You may also use deterites like scent repellents, motion activated, etc. For more information, click here.

If you have a cat on or near your property that is unowned and not ear-tipped, you may call Animal Control. The community cat ordinance only applies to cats that exhibit an ear tip.

When will the decrease of Community Cats be noticeable?

The population decrease will be gradual. The more cats that go through the TNVR process, the quicker the decrease will take place in our community.

Will Community Cats kill exotic or endangered birds?

Although some birds are killed by cats, cats are not generally a major threat to the bird population. Quite frankly, birds are hard to catch, and rodents are much easier prey. In 2011, the Smithsonian released a study that said cats were killing birds at an extreme rate. In reality, the study found that cats only accounted for the death of nine of the 69 birds studied. Humans, in fact, are far more threatening to birds than cats. Approximately 180 million birds die each year from flying into windows, buildings, and automobiles. Furthermore, the long-term effect of implementing TNVR is the reduction of the community cat population. With a smaller cat population, the amount of birds threatened by community cats would grow smaller, too.

Has TNVR worked other places?

The City of Topeka (KS) enacted a similarly worded ordinance in 2010, allowing for the TNVR of community cats. Animal Control saw an increase in requests for cat traps to TNVR cats immediately after the ordinance was enacted, and today has seen a noticeable decrease in nuisance calls about community cats. Additionally, the Helping Hands Humane Society in Topeka has seen a 20% reduction in the intake of all cats since the ordinance was enacted. This was due to the assistance of community partners including the Topeka Community Cat Fix, which has TNVR’d a total of 2,662 community cats in just 4 years.

The city of Jacksonville, Florida, is another example of a community that has capitalized on non-lethal alternatives for controlling free-roaming cats. Over a three-year period (2007-2010), Jacksonville saved approximately 13,000 lives and $160,000 through its TNVR initiatives. Equally important, feline nuisance complaints decreased during this period.

The Feral Fix Program in Salt Lake City, Utah, has also proven to be quite successful. From 2008 to 2010, Salt Lake City’s “save rate” of cats improved over 40%, equaling a total cost savings of approximately $65,000. Shelter cat intake for the years 2009-2010 decreased over 21%. During this same period, there was no increase in feline nuisance complaints.