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TNR Information

Trap-Neuter-Return Service Overview & Discharge Instructions

Services Overview

The Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) service provides sterilization surgery for unowned feral cats and kittens.

Only feral or semi-feral cats/kittens in Wisconsin are eligible for this program.

Releasing and/or feeding free-roaming cats may violate some municipal ordinances. If you are not familiar with your municipality’s ordinances, please contact your city hall. 

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Cost and Scope of Services

A cost of $30 per cat is to be assessed at the time of drop off for appointment. Cost includes:

  • Spay/neuter
  • Rabies vaccination
  • FVRCP vaccination
  • Ear tipping
  • Microchip

Additional fees (optional)

  • FeLV/FIV testing - $35
  • Flea treatment - $5
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Trap Rental

  • Trap deposit is $150 and will be collected and processed at the time of trap rental. Once the trap is returned to WHS, the deposit will be refunded minus the daily rental fee. If deposit is paid with check, the check will not be cashed unless the trap is not returned in working order. 
  • The rental fee is $3 per day.
  • If you would like to find out if traps are available, please call the campus nearest you.
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Trapping Tips

Bait the trap with smelly foods such as wet cat food or tuna. Set the food as far back in the trap as possible to prevent the cat from getting injured when the trap door shuts.

To set the trap, pull the bottom door upward and attach it to the hook on the right side of the door. This holds the door open and raises the trip plate, which will close the trap when the cat steps on it.

Do not trap at night or in extreme temperatures. Doing so may put the cats in danger, not only from weather but they could also injure themselves trying to escape the trap or be accessible to predators.

Cover the trap with a sheet or towel immediately once the cat is trapped. This will help to keep the cat calm.

If you trap a lactating mother (generally indicated by extremely enlarged mammary glands), release her immediately. Young kittens rely on their mother for food and may not survive without her. Additionally, kittens should not be taken from their mother until they are eating on their own and ideally not until they are 8 weeks old.

If you find kittens, do not automatically assume they are abandoned. Their mother may have left for a short time. Check back to see if the mother has returned before treating the kittens as abandoned. 

If you inadvertently trap a wild animal, release the animal immediately. If you have questions or concerns about wild animals, please contact our Wildlife Rehabilitation Center at 414-431-6204. Information is also available online here

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Pre-Surgery Guidelines

Prepare the area where you will hold the cats prior to taking them to WHS. You may wish to prepare your vehicle by laying down newspapers or towels.

Provide all cats with water and food should be withheld after 10 p.m. the evening prior to surgery if possible.

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Post-Surgery Discharge Instructions

Full recovery from anesthesia may take up to 24 hours. During this time, it is important to follow these recovery recommendations:

  • Keep the cat in the trap in a safe, warm, quiet place away from other animals allowing them to rest. Limit interruptions to allow them to recover with minimal additional stress.
  • You can use a garage, basement, bathroom, or extra room, as long as it is safe and warm.
  • Elevate the trap on something like bricks with a sheet of plastic underneath, which will keep the cage and your space clean and dry.  There may be a few drops of blood in the bottom of the cage, this is normal.
  • Do not put additional items, such as blankets or litterboxes, in the trap.  Only food and water dishes should be in the trap with the cat.  
  • Keep the trap covered loosely with a towel or sheet to help the cat relax and regulate body temperature.

Post-surgery food & water:

  • For adult cats over 5 months of age, offer a little food and water the morning after surgery.  If they do not throw it back up, you can offer more.  
  • For kittens under 5 months of age, offer food the day of surgery once the kitten is fully awake.  
  • All cats and kittens should be provided with water once fully alert.

The cat may not urinate or defecate during the first day or two of the holding period.

Cats do not require suture removal after surgery.

If any complications arise from the surgery call the campus where the surgery was performed for advice.

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Release Guidelines

Do not release unless the cat is eating and fully alert.

  • Male cats must be kept inside the trap for at least 24 hours post-surgery. 
  • Female cats must be kept inside the trap for at least 48 hours post-surgery. 

Cats need to be returned to their original outdoor location and not relocated to another area.  Relocating them can put them in danger because they are not familiar with the area.

Do not release the cat while they are showing any of these behaviors:

Typical post-surgical behaviors:

  • Deep sleep
  • Head bobbing
  • Wobbly movements
  • Fast breathing
  • Shivering

Behaviors of concern: 

  • Excessive bleeding from the incision
  • Inability to lift head by evening
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Any abnormalities of the surgical site
  • Lethargy beyond the first day of recovery

If any complications arise from the surgery call the campus where the surgery was performed for advice.

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