What is TNR?

In our work with feral community cats, you see the term used a lot. 

TNR = Trap, Neuter, Return. It is the most efficient and humane way of controlling the feral cat population. Here is a breakdown of the process:

Identify a colony

Cats often form into groups called colonies, where they gather around access to food and shelter. The people who feed the feral cats and build them shelters are called colony caretakers. Once we can identify a location where the cats consistently show up, we can plan a TNR project. 

Feeding Schedule

Get the cats on a feeding schedule, feeding them at the same time each day. Once we can predict the cats showing up, we can plan our trapping.


Prepare to trap the day before your scheduled spay/neuter appointment. Withhold food from the cats for at least the day of the trapping, so they will be hungry enough to go for the bait. Use a Tru Catch trap and set around the time the cats come around for their next meal. Check on the trap at least every 15 minutes. Use a towel or large cloth to cover the trap once the cat is inside, so they will be less frightened and anxious.


The cats will need to be held overnight before their appointment at the clinic. Place the traps in a steady, temperature controlled space where they will not be disturbed.


 Bring the cats to the clinic for their surgery. They will also be given a rabies vaccine and basic vet care.


Females or cats with any health complications will need to be held an additional 48-72 hours or as long as it takes for them to fully recover.


Bring the cats back to the same location where you found them and release them from the traps. 

Why TNR?

Feral cat overpopulation is an urban issue. Feral cats cannot be adopted as pets because they are not socialized to humans. 

Feral cats multiply quickly, exhaust the resources and live more difficult lives. Unfixed cats can have more health complications from pregnancies. TNR controls the population and improves the quality of their lives. 

Fixed cats are also quieter, less aggressive and less trouble than unfixed ones.

Work with Us

To schedule a TNR session with us in your neighborhood in the city of Detroit, check out our TNR Trapping Policy page and schedule a trapping with us.

If the colony is not on your property, permission from the property owners must be obtained. 

Local Resources

Here are the available TNR certification programs in Southeastern Michigan that will qualify you for discounted surgery and vaccine services to practice your TNR.

All About Animals TNR Program

Michigan Humane Society TNR Program

Learn More

More information about TNR and managing feral cats can be found on the Alley Cat Allies website.