Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return FAQ

What is a community cat?

A “community cat” is an un-owned, free-roaming feline. Many are feral (not socialized to humans), but others were abandoned or ran away. People often feed them, and some community cats may be friendly and adoptable. The vast majority of community cats are content in their outdoor homes, and research shows that they do not suffer harsh lives or pose a health risk to other cats. Community cats don’t go away if people don’t feed them, they just look for another food source and tend to move closer to where people live and work.

Why do we need a law for community cats?

Many municipalities have laws that don’t reflect modern knowledge of best practices in dealing with community cats. Those out-of-date laws cost municipalities money and cost healthy cats their lives.

What can TNVR legislation do?

The University at Buffalo Animal Law Clinic drafted a Model Community Cat Ordinance to help municipalities develop laws to authorize local best practices for managing community cats. The model law encourages Trap, Neuter, Vaccinate, Return (TNVR) but also allows the community to leave cats alone which is the next best alternative. Catch and kill eradication programs have consistently proved to be ineffective. Many municipalities have also drafted laws that capture the essence of the model law but use language that fits with local code.

What is TNVR (or TNR)?

Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return, or “TNVR” (also referred to as just “TNR”) helps manage community cats. Humanely trapped cats are evaluated by a licensed veterinarian, spayed or neutered, vaccinated, eartipped, and returned where found. TNVR is the scientifically-proven best way to manage cat populations, as recognized by many experts including the International City/County Management Association, the Humane Society of the United States, and others.

How does TNVR benefit humans in the community?

TNVR halts cat reproduction to keep the population in check, and decreases cats’ propensity for unpleasant behaviors such as fighting, spraying, and yowling. Vaccinations against diseases (including rabies) create a safer environment for all. TNVR puts cats back home in the community, helps control rodent populations, and does not reduce wildlife populations.

Would a local law impose any financial or other obligations?

Most Community Cat Ordinances simply support and encourage either TNVR or leaving cats alone. They do not require adopting municipalities to implement a TNVR program, or to allocate any funds.

Who pays for TNVR?

It depends on the community. Some ordinances simply allow TNVR, and do not require municipalities to pay. In most communities, volunteers cover the costs. Euthanasia costs municipalities more than $100 for each cat. TNVR costs $60 or less in most Western NY locations, usually funded by grants, donations and/or volunteers.

Why does your municipality need a Community Cat Ordinance?

Expert views on community cats have evolved. Although outdoor cats have lived alongside humans for over 10,000 years, some municipalities tried to “control” the population by killing healthy cats. Now, we know these cats are integral parts of our communities in terms of rodent control, and can live long and healthy lives outside. Moreover, trying to get rid of them by killing doesn’t work because other cats move in. TNVR ensures community cats are managed in such a way that addresses the communities’ needs while simultaneously ensuring the humane treatment of the cats themselves. Kind-hearted and well-intentioned people feed community cats in every community. It is commonplace for municipalities which are not experiencing cat complaints to already have volunteers practicing TNVR without the knowledge of public officials. The Model Ordinance merely recognizes and legalizes what likely already goes on in your town, village or city.