What is TNR?
TNR stands for Trap-Neuter-Release. TNR involves trapping feral and free-roaming cats (or "community cats") in humane traps, having them spayed/neutered, vaccinated, and ear-tipped, and releasing them back to their original location.
What is a Community Cat?
"Community cat" refers to any unowned, free-roaming cat. This encompasses both feral cats and stray cats. A feral cat is a cat that is not socialized to humans, and cannot be touched or played with like a pet cat. A stray cat is a free-roaming cat that is friendly to humans, but which has no known owner. Feral cats are not suitable to live indoors as pets, while strays may be. TNR is a suitable approach for both feral and stray cats as it prevents the birth of additional homeless cats.
What is an "ear-tip?"
Ear-tipping is the surgical removal of a small portion of a cat's left ear. Ear-tipping is done while a cat is sedated for spay/neuter surgery and is not painful for the cat.
An ear-tip marks that a community cat has been spayed/neutered and vaccinated against Rabies. It protects cats from being trapped and euthanized, and allows for them to be released back to their colony if they end up at the Wake County Animal Center.
Can't feral cats go to a shelter?
Since feral cats are not socialized to humans, they are not adoptable as pets. No-kill rescues rely on adoptions in order to save as many lives as possible, and therefore cannot take on unadoptable cats. While a county shelter will take surrendered feral cats, the cats will be euthanized since they cannot be adopted out.
If a community cat is friendly (a "stray"), it may be eligible to enter an adoption program. TNR Wake does not maintain its own adoption or foster program.
Can't the cats be relocated?
Relocating a community cat or an entire colony should be a last resort. Cats are territorial and will try to find their way back home, and may end up injured or killed along the way. Unless the cats' lives are in danger, the best place for them is the area they are already familiar with.
If feral cats are causing problems in your neighborhood, contact the TNR Wake Helpline to discuss how you can resolve the issues and help the cats be netter neighbors.
If you feel relocation may be necessary, read Alley Cat Allies' relocation guide to learn how to do so safely and successfully.
About TNR Wake
Will you trap cats for me?
TNR Wake is run by a small group of volunteers. While we can direct you to resources for performing TNR, we typically do not have the resources necessary to assist with trapping and transport. However, we may be able to provide hands-on assistance in certain circumstances, such as when a caretaker is physically unable to perform TNR or lacks transportation.
A community cat had kittens. Can you take them?
Kittens born to a community cat may be eligible to enter an adoption program if the caretaker first socializes the kittens to humans. The ideal window for socializing feral kittens is 6 to 12 weeks of age. If a kitten is past 12 weeks of age, TNR is the best approach. Kittens can be spayed/neutered at 8 weeks old and 2 pounds, and can receive a Rabies vaccine at 12 weeks.
TNR Wake does not maintain its own adoption or foster program. If there are kittens you would like to get into a rescue group, we may be able to provide you with the names of some local rescue groups.
A feral cat is injured. Can you help?
If you come across a cat that is seriously ill/injured and unlikely to recover, such as from being struck by a vehicle, you should call your local Animal Control or bring it to the county shelter.
If a cat has a treatable illness or injury, you may be able to trap it and bring it to a veterinarian to be seen. While there is not a free full-service veterinary clinic in Wake County, you may be able to negotiate a "Good Samaritan" discount with your veterinarian.
If you are bringing a feral cat to the vet, it will need to arrive in a trap. Visit our Resources page to find a trap rental.
About the Colony Registry
Why should I register my colony?
Registering your feral cat colony allows us to contact you if a cat from your colony is trapped by Animal Control. The Wake County Animal Center informs TNR Wake when an ear-tipped feral cat is at the shelter. Using the colony information you provide, we can contact you if we believe the cat may be from your colony. The cat can then be released from the shelter and returned to its colony.
Is my colony information confidential?
Information submitted to the TNR Wake Colony Registry is held in a confidential database. Your information will never be disclosed to a third party without express written consent. General data, such as zip codes or number of cats may be shared for statistical purposes and to obtain funding for cat projects.
A cat from my colony was trapped by Animal Control. How can I reclaim it?
If your cat has been spayed/neutered and has an ear-tip, you may be able to reclaim it from the Wake County Animal Center during the center's business hours.
In order to reclaim a cat as its caretaker, you will be required to show proof of "ownership." This may be a spay/neuter record, a Rabies certificate, or a photo of the cat. Without proof of ownership, you may be required to wait until the cat's stray hold is lifted before reclaiming it. Contact the TNR Wake Helpline and we will assist you in arranging authorization to reclaim the cat.
In certain circumstances you may be required to relocate the cat as a condition of its release. If a cat must be relocated, it's important to have a plan in place before reclaiming it.
I was charged $5 to reclaim an ear-tipped cat. Why?
Without proof of a current Rabies vaccination for the cat, you will be required to pay $5 for the cat to be vaccinated before leaving the Wake County Animal Center