Trap-Neuter-Return Community Cat Program - Panhandle Animal Shelter

Trap-Neuter-Return Community Cat Program

Panhandle Animal Shelter works to improve the lives of free-roaming and feral cats in our community and eliminate the unnecessary euthanasia of healthy cats that are not suitable for adoption.

Community cats are un-owned cats that live outdoors in the community. They may be feral or friendly, may have been born into the wild, or may be lost or abandoned pets.

Stray or free-roaming cats that are friendly and would do well in a home can be made available for adoption. Feral cats that would not be appropriate or happy as pets are referred to our TNR Community Cat program where they’re sterilized, ear-tipped, and released in the same outdoor location where they were found.

If there are stray or feral cats in your community that need sterilization surgery, you can participate in our TNR Community Cat program by trapping and transporting community cats. Please call the shelter at (208) 265-7297 ext. 105 for more information.

Step for participating in the TNR Community Cat program

  • Call (208) 265-7297 ext. 105 to get put on the surgery schedule. Please do not bring cats in without an appointment as we do not perform surgeries daily. Regrettably, if you bring a feral cat in on a non-surgery day, for the safety of the cat and our staff, it will be turned away.
  • There is a limit of 2 cats per family, per surgery day.
  • For the safety of all, feral cats must arrive in humane live traps.
  • We ask for a $5 donation to help subsidize the surgery costs.
  • Drop off is between the hours of 8:00 and 9:00 am and pick up is no later than 1:00 pm via Animal Intake, the single door located to the right of the shelter main entrance.

Why return feral cats to the community?

Removing these cats from the community doesn’t eliminate the nuisances they create and actually encourages cat populations to steadily grow. When you return cats that have been sterilized, they continue to use resources but are unable to reproduce, decreasing the free-roaming cat population over time. Sterilization also reduces problematic behaviors like fighting and spraying.

What about our cold winters?

While it’s hard to imagine living outdoors during our winters, we know cats have adapted and manage to survive year round. Similar programs have been successfully implemented in all types of climates across the U.S. and Canada.

Don’t outdoor cats kill birds and wildlife?

Although community cats often hunt to survive, this program will reduce the impact on birds and wildlife by gradually decreasing the cat population over time.

What is the difference between a stray cat and a feral cat?

A feral cat is primarily wild-raised or has adapted to feral life, while a stray cat is a domesticated pet who is lost or abandoned. Stray pet cats are usually tame and accustomed to contact with people. They will frequently seek out human contact and exhibit behaviors such as meowing or purring. In contrast, feral cats are notably quiet and keep their distance from people. Stray cats will also often try to make a home near humans — in car garages, front porches or backyards.

General differences in appearance and behavior include:

Stray cat: May approach you

May approach food right away

May be vocal

May look disheveled

May be seen at all hours of the day

Feral cat: Will not approach you

Will wait until you move away before approaching food

Will be silent

Will appear groomed

Usually nocturnal

I found a friendly stray cat, what do I do?

If you have found a stray cat, please view our Lost and Found Directory for more information on how to help lost pets. If assistance is needed, please call us at (208) 265-7297 ext. 100.

I found a feral cat, what do I do?

First, look to see if the cat already has a tipped ear. Feral cats who have been through a Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program will usually have a tipped ear, which is a universal symbol used to identify neutered free-roaming cats. The most common type of tipped ear is a flat quarter-inch taken from the top of the left ear, which is painlessly performed under anesthesia while the cat is sedated for its spay or neuter procedure. Other TNR programs may use ear notches or use the right ear instead of the left. Ear-tipped cats have already been sterilized and can be left where they are found.

If no ear is tipped, the cat is most likely not sterilized, and you can help by participating in our TNR Community Cat program to get the cat spayed or neutered. Your first step is to stop by our shelter to rent a live animal trap. We are open to the public 7 days a week, noon to 4:30 pm. Traps can be rented by leaving a $100 deposit in the form of cash, a held check or by using a credit card. Our staff will show you how to set and bait the trap with best practices in mind.

What should I do if I find a cat with a tipped ear?

A tipped ear indicates that the cat has already been sterilized, so you can simply leave that cat alone.

What do I do if I have a scheduled appointment but I don’t trap a cat?

We understand while participating in our TNR Community Cat program you are at the mercy of the cat. If you aren’t successful at trapping the cat the day or evening before your scheduled appointment, don’t worry! Just give us call and we’d be happy to set you up with another appointment. Trapping feral cats can be a bit tricky so if you are having difficulties with a certain feline, let us know. We have lots of tricks up our sleeves to help make it an easier process.

What do I do with the cat once I have it in the trap?

First, it is important to trap only on the day or evening before your scheduled appointment. Once you have trapped a cat and ensured its ear is not tipped, cover the trap with a towel or blanket to help calm it. Move the trap to a safe area protected from the weather if possible. Show up for your scheduled appointment between the hours of 8:00 and 9:00 am. Please note that for the safety of you, the cat, and our staff, feral cats must arrive in humane live traps.

What services do community cats receive at PAS?

A community cat is sedated, spayed or neutered and their left ear tipped to help identify him or her as a sterilized feral.

How much will this cost?

Panhandle Animal Shelter asks for a $5 donation to help subsidize the surgery costs.