Proven to be safe, effective and–most of all–humane, the Animal Rescue League of Berks County supports trap-neuter-return (TNR) services to Berks County residents interested in controlling and reducing the number of free-roaming, outdoor community (feral) cats and kittens in their neighborhoods. Because these cats were not handled by humans or lived with humans, they have independent spirits and are used to outdoor, free-roaming living, which makes them unsuitable to be adopted as indoor house pets. Cats who are TNR’ed are humanely trapped, neutered, vaccinated, ear-tipped and returned to the area where they were found.
What is a community cat?
A community cat is a domestic cat that is born in the wild and that typically lives with other community (feral) cats. These cats are usually unable to handled because they have had no exposure to human touch or contact. Kittens born in the wild begin to take on feral behaviors at a very young age; therefore, only very young feral cats can be domesticated.
What do I do if I find a community cat?
The ARL offers Berks County residents support and help to trap-neuter-return (TNR) outdoor cats. TNR is the humane trapping of outdoor cats, spaying or neutering them, and then returning them to their original location. This program is promoted on a national level by the ASPCA as a more effective way of dealing with outdoor cat populations. Due to our limited resources, the ARL does not come and pick up outdoor cats, but we do offer guidance and support to help you humanely deal with the cats, to help you humanely keep the cats off of your property with the use of ultrasonic or other deterrents, and to help you decrease or eliminate their population over time.
Why doesn′t the ARL take these cats and adopt them or euthanize them if they can′t be adopted?
Because these cats have had limited human contact, they do not like to be handled or confined indoors, and they do not make good pets–nor are they happy to live indoors as inside pets. We do not euthanize these cats because there’s simply no point in doing so: Study after study* shows that TNR is more effective than euthanasia in eliminating cat colonies over time, and this policy aligns with our mission to humanely treat animals in our community. In the past, many organizations–including ours–did euthanize these cats, and it did nothing to put a dent into the outdoor cat crisis in Berks County. Sterilizing cats to ensure they can’t reproduce is the only effective means to ensure we get a handle on these cats in our community.
*Please see these resources:
Animals, a peer-reviewed, open-access online journal
What are the first steps in dealing with these cats?
If you’re reading this, you’ve already taken your first steps as being someone who’s concerned for the welfare of these ownerless cats, as well as being someone who’s interested in seeing their population decrease. Your involvement in this process is critical. Please take a moment to read these important steps:
- Step 1: Identify all people who are feeding the cats. Once you have, please coordinate feeding of the cat or cat colony to once or twice a day. Cats should be fed a quarter cup of dry or wet food per cat per day; please make sure to pull any uneaten wet food immediately after the cats have finished eating to ensure flies don’t lay eggs in the food. Please understand that overfeeding cats will likely cause more cats to join the colony. In order to successfully trap cats, cats must be hungry and know where and when to obtain food. Once a feeding schedule is established and set, please proceed to the next step.
- Step 2: Call to make an appointment at No Nonsense Neutering or Fairchild Foundation. These organizations offer low-cost spay/neutering services for community cats; however, due to the feral cat crisis in Berks County, appointments may be booked out 3 weeks or longer during select times of the year. Clinics are offered as follows:
- No Nonsense Neutering offers TNR clinics on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays and every first and third Sunday of the month. They also offer trap rental and feral cat deterrents. Their phone number is 866-820-2510, or appointments can be made online. Up to four feral cats be neutered at once by appointment, or you can walk into their clinic with one trapped cat without an appointment on select clinic days.
- Fairchild Foundation offers TNR clinics on the third Sunday of each month. They also offer trap rental. Appointments can be made online for up to four feral cats.
- To expedite your check in, please make sure you visit the website of the organization you’d like to work with to read their complete guidelines, to complete their intake forms in advance, and to receive handy tips on how to effectively trap and care for the cats prior to surgery.
- Step 3: Obtain a trap from No Nonsense Neutering, the Fairchild Foundation, or from the ARL. Two types of traps are available to rent through the ARL for $5 per day, plus a $60 to $80 refundable deposit.
What do I do if I find a litter of kittens?
Outdoor kittens with limited or no human interaction have a small window of opportunity to be socialized and adopted as house pets. If you should find a litter of kittens, please contact us as soon as you can so we can help figure out the best solution for these kittens depending on their age and condition. If the kittens’ mother is attending to them and the kittens are safe, our policies reflect best practices to ensure the health of the litter, which is to stay with their mother as long as possible.
Are there any costs for me to TNR outdoor cats?
While the ARL, unfortunately, cannot subsidize veterinary costs for all outdoor cats in Berks County, we are able to help people get a handle on a community cat colony in their neighborhood. We are very fortunate to have many community partners working together to help the community handle the outdoor cat crisis. For people in certain zip codes (19601 through 19612), the Humane Society of Berks County offers free sterilization of community cats at No Nonsense Neutering through a generous grant. If you do not reside in one of those area codes, you can still contact No Nonsense Neutering or the Fairchild Foundation; both offer low-cost sterilization clinics for outdoor community cats. You may also contact your municipal leaders and ask if they offer financial assistance to help you with an outdoor colony of cats.
Please know that while you are under no obligation to do anything to help these cats, ignoring the problem will only lead to the cats continuing to reproduce, which will only lead to more cats. Very rarely will the cats move onto another location when they are receiving food, water and shelter in an area that they consider to be “home.”
How can I get more information or help?
To speak with a TNR expert at the ARL, please contact our Admissions department at 610-373-8830 x104 or by email at email@example.com.