Discussion on kittens for those who are involved with trap-neuter-return

This is a discussion on kittens for those who are involved with trap-neuter-return (TNR). The idea for this article came about when a person commented last week in a Facebook TNR group that all kittens should be returned to their colony after being trapped and spayed/neutered.

Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

While some believe this is the correct way to practice TNR, I and most of those I’m familiar with who manage colonies disagree with this method. One Upstate South Carolina shelter (which shall remain nameless) is currently alleged to operate on kittens as small as 1.5 pounds then release them rather than offer them for adoption. Many times they’re taken to a different area than where they were originally trapped.

I prefer to try to tame young feral kittens. Regardless of their age, some feral kittens simply don’t have the “cat from hell” personality at the time they’re trapped.

Socializing a feral kitten

Over the past several years I’ve been able to tame several kittens and change them into house cats by keeping them in a small bathroom and providing for them as I would a cat adopted from a shelter. Food, water, toys, and love can quickly change a feral kitten into an indoor cat. I have two leaving for their forever homes in early September and don’t regret the decision to offer them a forever family.

I’ll be the first to admit that indoor only former feral kittens miss out on a lot. They miss out on being hit by a vehicle, being poisoned, becoming lost or stolen, and contracting FIV/FeLV during a catfight. Did I mention kittens make a tasty snack for coyotes and are many times a form of entertainment for animal abusers? The list goes on and on…

Going to her new home in September

How do those of you who practice TNR feel about the kittens you trap? To you, does TNR mean trap-neuter-release or trap-neuter-rehome when it comes to kittens (if a home can be found) or should ALL kittens automatically be released back to their colony?

Please sound off in the comment section.

Elisa

12 thoughts on “Discussion on kittens for those who are involved with trap-neuter-return”

  1. “I’ll be the first to admit that indoor only former feral kittens miss out on a lot. They miss out on being hit by a vehicle, being poisoned, becoming lost or stolen, and contracting FIV/FeLV during a catfight. Did I mention kittens make a tasty snack for coyotes and are many times a form of entertainment for animal abusers?” Well put!!! And don’t forget the horrific conditions of living outdoors, especially in extreme weather. It is a good thing to convert kittens into indoor cats. They only suffer from being spoiled. Thank you all, TNR people! These kitties will flourish because of you!

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  2. It is unfortunate that some people are returning ALL adoptable cats to colonies, esp when they are defenseless kittens. This is the reason that the whole concept of TNR is regarded as a failure by many. We have to sell TNR as something that reduces the cat overpopulation problem, and when the general public sees a managed colony that has not been reduced in numbers, it creates problems for everyone who engages in TNR. With this said, it is difficult to find good homes, but putting tiny kittens back is the worst case scenario.

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  3. I do not release young kittens back into the colony. If they are craving human interaction, I will work with them and place into a home. If they remain aloof and are just to big to socialize I hold onto them until they are older. Only then can they be placed into a confined safe area for 3-4 weeks before they can be released. I will not release them back to an area to be hit by cars, attacked by other animals, killed by people. Safety is above all else.

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    • It’s really amazing how many people have messaged me saying “It’s TNR. That means they ALL go back.” If they didn’t all go back then it wouldn’t be called trap-neuter-return.

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      • I agree with you Elisa. Young kittens should be domesticated and found a home. My cat was feral. I adopted him in about seven weeks of age. He is now a wonderful cat companion. The reason why kittens should not be put back from where they came from having been spayed or neutered is because they can be domesticated and therefore live a much better life with a human caretaker.

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  4. In TNR’NG with a friend since February we have TNR’D 58 cats. We found 13 kittens. We only turned one back because I was overwhelmed with so many at once and it was caught later. No fosters step up but I do whatever possible to not return. I disagree with the article.

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    • So you agree it should be mandatory for ALL kittens to be returned to the colony after being spayed/neutered. Unfortunately, I’ve had several contact me who feel the same way. ALL should go back regardless.

      I believe in trying to tame and rehome those that can be. It’s a different situation if they don’t have a home to go to since it’s been a horrible kitten season this year.

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        • Putting kittens and cats that could be adoptable back into a feral colony is just inhumane. Yes, there are those that just won’t adapt, but those that can will now become easy marks for abusers because they trust people. Every year we say this is the worst kitten season ever. I don’t think it is getting worse so much as we are running out of people willing to adopt. Those of us who have been doing this a long time have full houses. Unfortunately, new adopters are in shorter supply each year.It breaks my heart to see so many animals killed. It does feel like more people are surrendering their pets for callous reasons, we had a baby, it doesn’t play like it used to (it’s 8 years old, duh), or my personal new favorite- my boyfriend who has cats, doesn’t want my cat. Pets are a lifetime commitment. But I digress….the point is, the shelters are full, the rescues are full, and the kittens keep coming. TNR works, but tossing defenseless kittens out to colonies makes success numbers look good. No one counts how many die after they are dumped.

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