Trap, neuter and release program

By: Mary Kane

Trap, neuter and release program

Not all cats thrive in homes. When cats are not socialized young, they often never acclimate to people or the indoors. The sad truth is that when a feral cat is brought to a shelter, they are often deemed unadoptable and euthanized. That’s why we are looking for heroes for the stray, feral cats in our community.

Overpopulation happens rapidly

To make the environment more challenging, cats procreate quickly, reaching sexual maturity as young as four months old. A female can have up to three litters a year with an average of four to eight in each litter. That means in just one year an outdoor mom could have as many as 24 offspring. According to the Animal Humane Society, an average of 75% of these vulnerable kittens will die before they reach six months of age. The ones who survive will further contribute to the overpopulation problem.

Ruff Start operates a trap, neuter and return program (TNR)

By trapping, neutering and returning cats to their outdoor homes, Ruff Start plays an important role in the community. TNR helps these animals by reducing competition for limited resources, eliminating the stress of pregnancy, boosting their immunity with critical shots and reducing the population over time. Plus, most veterinarians won’t work with feral cats and if they are open to it, often can’t due to limited resources. Ruff Start can complete the vetting at a fraction of the cost of most veterinary offices.

How the program works

Ruff Start has a small team of trained and dedicated volunteers who work with finders to trap cats. It’s a process that takes skill and a lot of patience. Once secured, the volunteer brings the animals to Ruff Start’s veterinary center where they receive spay/neuter, rabies and distemper shots. Kittens are sent to homes with fosters where they can be socialized and adopted.

Once the care is completed and the cats have been given time to recover, the volunteer returns the cats to the same outdoor home where they came from. It’s important the cats have the stability of their known environment.

The need far exceeds the resources

Ruff Start has an ongoing wait list of people who have identified strays or colonies in their communities and are requesting TNR support. We want to use our expertise and resources to help more in need. With additional funding we could. By investing in these outdoor cats, we get to the root of the problem by helping end needless suffering and euthanasia.

Please consider making a one-time or ongoing contribution to this important cause. With your donation, note that would like your funds to go to the “TNR” program.

If you would like more information about how to get cats in your community assistance with Ruff Start’s trap TNR program, please contact For additional information and resources, visit Alley Cat Allies or Ruff Start’s community cat resource page.

Thank you for being a cat hero.