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FAQs about TNR

Thank you for visiting the Wisconsin Humane Society's website for more information about services for feral cats.

What is TNR?

Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) is a method of humanely controlling feral cat populations. TNR involves several steps. First, people humanely trap feral cats on their property. The cats are then brought to WHS, sterilized and vaccinated, and receive an ear-tip (a small notch in the cat’s left ear that confirms that he or she has been sterilized). Socialized cats are adopted into homes, and cats who are truly feral are returned to their original location.

What are the other options for dealing with feral cat populations?

Feral cat populations can be dealt with in one of four ways: trap and kill, whereby cats are caught and euthanized; trap and remove, whereby cats are trapped and relocated; trap and return (TNR); and doing nothing or withholding food from the cats. 

What are the advantages of Trap-Neuter-Return?

There are many advantages of Trap-Neuter-Return. Besides ending the breeding of more unwanted cats, it stops many nuisance cat behaviors like spraying, yowling and fighting. Through TNR, cats are vaccinated and sterilized so they cannot reproduce further.

What traps are best?

To utilize our TNR services, it is important that you use the appropriate equipment to trap a feral cat.

The most commonly used traps are Tomahawk and Tru Catch constructed of 16 gauge 1" x 1" galvanized wire mesh. We recommend models that have both front and back doors and are 30" or 36" long by 12" high since the cats will be spending both pre-surgery holding and post-surgery recovery time in the trap. Two-door traps of the right height make caring for the cats safer and easier for you as a caretaker and increase the safety of veterinary staff handling more fractious animals. 

Won't the cats spread disease?

Feral cats generally carry disease as the same rate as other felines. TNR helps to control the spread of disease in free-roaming cat populations. Through TNR, cats are immunized against rabies.  

What is the Wisconsin Humane Society’s TNR service?

The Wisconsin Humane Society offers a TNR service. The service provides sterilization and vaccination services to feral cats for a nominal fee. Any interested person who would like to have a feral cat altered and who agrees to our guidelines is welcome to participate. 

My neighbor's feral cats are digging up my flower bed. What can I do?

For simple solutions to this and other common cat behaviors, click here.

I like the birds in the neighborhood. Won't the cats prey upon the birds?

WHS boasts the state's largest wildlife rehabilitation center, and we are concerned with the welfare of both domestic and wild animals. Research indicates that habitat destruction has caused the greatest decline in the wild bird population, but that wild birds are also under pressure from other threats like window collisions, pesticides and cat predation. We believe that TNR is the most humane tool available to reduce the number of feral cats in our community, thereby reducing the impact that cats have on wildlife. 

How do I prevent catching wildlife in my cat traps?

Wild animals, such as raccoons, opossums, or skunks, will also be attracted to your live trap, just as any feral cat may be.  To avoid catching a wild animal in your trap, do not set your trap overnight or during evening hours when wild animals are most active. 

If you accidentally catch a wild animal, it is your responsibility to release it where it was trapped (make sure you know how to both set and release your trap!).  It is NOT advised to remove or relocate the wild animal (reasons why are available here, and in some cases, is illegal to do so.  If you have further questions regarding wildlife, please call our Wildlife Rehabilitation Center at 414-431-6204.


I have additional questions. What should I do?

If you have further questions, feel free to contact us at (414) 431-6102 or

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