Trap, Neuter, Return is a programme through which free-roaming cats (not belonging to particular humans) are humanely trapped, sterilised, and returned to the outdoor locations where they were found.

Why TNR Is So Important:

  • TNR is essential for maintaining the health and population of a feral cat colony.
  • The average number of litters that an unneutered female cat can give birth to in one year is three, with each litter containing an average of four kittens (that’s 12 kittens in one year from just one cat!). It’s easy to see why the numbers continue to climb.
  • Unneutered males are less likely to be attracted to the area.
  • Cats can be noisy and messy! Cats call, spray and fight during the mating season – from January to August.

The first trigger for a trap-neuter-return programme is when the number of feral cats in a colony is seen to be rising, and the females have not been neutered. A TNR programme approaches the situation using the following recommended steps:


  1. Assess the cats and their environment. Do they appear to be stray or feral; are there kittens and/or nursing mothers; are there ill or injured cats? Take a head-count and plan to catch 70% (make a note to return after about 6 months to retrap the remainder). Plan ahead for the care to be provided after trapping.
  2. Communicate with neighbours and any caretakers. Build good community relations, working to address the concerns of others.
  3. Establish a regular feeding schedule. This may involve providing feeding stations and winter shelters.
  4. Find and coordinate with a veterinarian or clinic to perform the surgery and provide other medical treatment.
  5. Assemble trapping supplies, including humane traps, newspapers and other useful materials.
  6. Withhold food (but not water) for about 24 hours before trapping, with the cooperation of caretakers and neighbours.


  1. Bait and set the traps in a safe location, using as many traps as are needed.
  2. Wait nearby but out of sight, for cats to enter the traps and the traps to spring.
  3. Quickly cover each occupied trap with a cover or sheet, which helps to calm the cat within.
  4. Check whether each trapped cat is already owned or neutered (ear tip; identification tattoo or microchip; lost pet databases), and take appropriate action.
  5. Transport the cats in their traps to the vet surgery.
  6. If a cat is too fearful or savvy of the regular box trap, try alternate drop traps.

Neutering: Medical Care and Socialisation

  1. Cats in poor condition may need to receive medical attention, gain weight and strength before surgery. Kittens can be safely neutered at eight weeks, or as soon as they weigh two pounds (and are healthy).
  2. When ready, a veterinarian performs neuter surgery and provides other medical attention as needed.
  3. During the surgery of feral cats, ear-notching (removing 3/8 inch or 1 cm from the tip of the left ear, proportionally smaller in a kitten) identifies that the cat has been neutered and treated, when later seen from a distance.
  4. Cats found suffering with terminal or untreatable illnesses or injuries are humanely euthanised.

Return: The cats go home

  1. If the original colony location is safe, transport the feral cats there and release them from their traps or carriers.
  2. Keep detailed records of the cats neutered and clean the traps and materials used.
  3. Caretakers monitor the outdoor colony locations, providing food, shelter, and medical care, and watching for any new abandoned cats requiring trapping.

There is more information about Trap, Neuter & Return in our Fact Sheets

Vets in the Axarquia

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Reporting Abuse

If you need to report a case of cruelty please contact SEPRONA

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dog or cat abandoned in the Axarquia region, here's what to do