How to get the community on board with your TNR program
No matter how passionate you are about helping community cats in your neighborhood, the property around your condominium or the office park where you work, others may not be so enthusiastic. For many, the only way to solve a stray cat problem is to rid the area of them. That’s why if you find a colony of cats you want to manage through a Trap, Neuter, Return (TNR) program; you need to start out by gaining support of the community or building management, if the property is commercial.
Always have your facts ready before you begin any TNR program. Talk to people in the area where you want to trap. Try to identify all the objections residents or businesses may have about your TNR plans. Once you understand potential objectives, arm yourself with good data to present a strong case for the positive outcomes of TNR. Alley Cat Allies is a great resource for information on the effectiveness of TNR in reducing and stabilizing a population of community cats, which you can use to present your case.
Other tips for gaining community support
Learn the law: Find out about aspects of the law related to community cats that will impact your efforts.
Develop handout materials: Develop a handout that you can give out to concerned members of the community that makes the case for TNR. The handout should have statistics and examples of communities that have successfully reduced community cat populations through TNR programs. It also should explain the process and anticipated results and point out the benefits to the community, including less cats and kittens, less cat aggression and less cat roaming.
Identify who else may be feeding cats: Offer to feed the cats so that there is consistency and so that hungry cats won’t be getting into trash cans in the area.
Apply best practices: Sometimes complaints from the community may not be as much with the cats but with the caregivers, who fail to keep feeding areas clean or leave food out anywhere, which may attract other animals. Make sure everyone involved in your TNR effort follows best practices in feeding and providing water for cats.
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) recommends
“Instead of feeding cats anywhere and everywhere they show up, caretakers should set up a permanent feeding station in a discreet location within the cats’ territory, keeping in mind that where the cats eat and find shelter is where they’ll spend most of their time. In a commercial area, look for spots behind buildings or in nearby brush or woods. If you’re in a residential area, feed in a backyard instead of on a front porch.”
Be open and honest: HSUS also advises that you should be open and honest with everyone about your efforts. While the aim is for the cats to be well cared for so that they keep a low profile, everyone involved in the effort needs to be visible in the community and available for a discussion if an issue arises.
Post SettingsRemember that your goal is to help the cats. Be an ambassador for their well-being in your TNR campaign.