Savannah's Paw Tracks

Autobiography of a Former Shelter Cat

Realty of TNR: B4TC



This Paw It Forward Project is truly personal for me

This Paw It Forward Project is truly personal for me

This blog post is dedicated to all the humans who are making TNR happen in the USA.  This is the best ever PAW IT FORWARD PROJECT EVER!!

Mom Linda is taking over the post for today…it is her story to tell…as our contribution to Be The Change 4 Animals movement.

Hello All…I have just learned that TNR is not at all for the feint of heart; one must be ready to see beautiful vibrant cats,young and old, being spayed and neutered and then released back into the outdoor world where they live, often never to be seen nor touched again by any human before they die alone, sometimes in pain…cats living a feral life are very low on the food chain in the out of doors…victims to unleashed dog attacks, cars, cruel humans, wild animals…

But…TNR is the best most effective strategy in the USA with any hope of dramatically diminishing the increasing number of feral cats.  This is my personal belief, others will disagree, but I was simply humbled to take part in a TNR clinic this past Sunday.

The SNIP (spay, neuter impact program) Clinic for Contra Costa County has been operating since 2006…visit their web site to view some great photos

This clinic is held on site at our largest county shelter. They open their surgery on a Sunday four times a year and vets, vet techs, and people young and old volunteer to make it happen.  Perhaps the true heroes of the day are the people who are committed  to trapping  the feral cats. One requirement of the clinic is that all cats must arrive and depart inside their traps…some have been in the traps since Thursday or Friday…fed, papers kept clean, etc.  Trapping a feral cat is not something one can ‘plan’ based on precise scheduling so many trappers get them as close to the clinic date as possible and then care for them until they can present them for TNR.

I was asked by the managing Vet to limit where I took photos so as to not show the cats in surgery or other states where my readers might perceive the cats are treated without respect. I agreed, but nothing can be less true about how these feral cats were treated from the moment they arrived (I worked check in for 3 hours) to their recovery in our ICU area (I worked this for 4 hours).  We work quietly so as not to disturb the cats coming out of their anesthesia and recognizing that most have never been handled by humans before today and are terrified of our voices.

(please hover to view captions, click to view the complete caption)

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…before the cats are brought in to await their turn in surgery


After check in and they are waiting…


They then go back to receive their first injection to begin the anesthesia administration process…at this time they can be weighed as they are now asleep…

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The surgery where females will be spayed…males do not need the full surgery theater as their procedure is much less intrusive.

After their procedure, they are taken to recovery where we closely monitor them.  Those who have temps lower than 97 degrees are quickly taken to a heating station to give them extra warmth.  All the traps are placed on heating pads to make them comfortable as they recover.  We check them every 10-20 minutes for “Heads and Ears Up” movement…then we know they are coming around successfully.

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Now I have a whole new perspective on what TNR really looks like, feels like and how it is one of the only strategies to truly reduce the growing numbers of unwanted cats in the USA.

We desperately need more low cost, high volume, preferable free, spay and neuter clinics if we are ever to reduce the numbers of dogs and cats killed in public shelters.  Someone told me that  an estimated 180,000 feral cats live in Contra Costa County, the majority in the east county where the population is less dense and the ability to dump a cat much easier.

Can YOU volunteer and Be The Change For Animals in your community by helping with your local TNR efforts?  You do not have to trap cats…but you can help manage the clinic operation on days like our SNIP Clinic.

This day I will not soon forget.  I wanted to touch every cat I saw once they were asleep…so beautiful, many so thin, so young…ferals do not often live more 4-5 years…so few were very old.  Many very young females were pregnant already…we were able to abort and spay.  I will be back to help SNIP in October.

Be The Change For Animals

Paw Pats, Mom Linda


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45 thoughts on “Realty of TNR: B4TC

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  7. I helped out at a spay/neuter clinic that was all for owned animals, so at least we didn’t have the feral aspect to deal with. It really was heartbreaking to see the number of cats who needed the help, but yet so heartwarming to see them all getting it.

    Thank you for helping out.

  8. We missed this post Linda..and yes we have no such programs here so the problem of multiplying cats hard as it is to release them..knowing full well they have not the luxury of a guaranteed meal or bed..or safety ..the opions are an increasing number of cats…the spread of Feline Aids will become bigger and t goes around in circles…TNR is the best solution to date ..but so much more needs to be done in educating people from a very very young age..spending money on programs in schools may cost but the cost in the long run to not having animal smart minded individuals is far greater..bravo for a wonderful post 🙂 hugs Bev xx

  9. Awesome post! TNR is so important. And we do help with the efforts here ion our community! 🙂

  10. Really informative post. I am a supporter of TNR – it is not a perfect solution, but it goes a long way. Thank you for blogging the change!

  11. This is such a pawsum posty Savannah and Mom L. Da set up is much like da spay/neuter clinic mommy volunteers at. wees wish there wus no feral kitties but as long as there is wees wish there wus mowe TNR events. Fanks fur shawin’.

    Luv ya’


  12. Beautifully run operation there Linda. Hope you can persuade more people to join in – it is the only way to go.

  13. spittythekitty on said:

    God bless your Mom and all the wonderful Humans who help with this program–it *is* hard to think that the kitties will return to their outdoor lives when they’ve recovered, but they are better off than before, and there’s nothing more important than reducing the number of babies born. I don’t think I used to act much different from these scared boys–I wanted NUFFING to do with Humans. Your Mom and the others are doing Ceiling Cat’s work, for sure. XOXOXOXO

  14. Thank you for this. We will share your post. ALL OVER THE PLACE. THIS is an eye witness account – this matters and you made it happen. ALL of you in the teams there. Thank you!

  15. Mom Linda you ARE one of those amazing people who can make a direct difference. I would have gone and done nothing but cry the whole day, I wish I could be as strong as you! Thank you for being one of the incredible!
    Marty’s Mom

  16. How great that your mom got to help out at the clinic. Our mom toured our Low Cost Spay/Neuter clinic a while back, though they weren’t doing any surgeries that day. You do wish you could do more for them. But every little bit helps…and now they won’t be adding to the feral cat problem. Thanks for sharing this with all of us.

  17. Yes, it is so very tough to constantly think about them while knowing so many times you can’t do more for them. That was such a brilliant post Mom Linda!

  18. What a great event to be part of! There is an ongiong low-cost TNR effort here, but it’s still a drop in the bucket compared to the numbers of ferals. Our mild weather means that we have kittens nonstop year round here, and the population really explodes. I heard an estimate that our feral population is over 250,000! Our largest TNR orgniazation got a grant through our state’s Spay & Neuter license plate fund and estimates they’re going to manage to spay/neuter 1000 cats with it before the grant period runs out next month. Every bit helps.

    Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

  19. kittiesblue on said:

    Linda, what an amazing thing you did. I volunteer with a TNR/Rescue but have never done anything like this. I think, like you, I would want to touch every kitty. Apaws, apaws, apaws to the Contra Costa County Clinic, to you and to all the other volunteers. Hugs, Janet and Kitties Blue

  20. Cascadian Nomads on said:

    Great post! Any little difference in the feral pet population is truly a huge difference. I wish more people understood how important keeping the feral cat population humanely controlled is to the environment, society and the health of even indoor pets!

  21. Our local chapter of First Coast No More Homeless Pets has done so many spay/neuters that it has made our city a NO KILL entity. They reach the over 90% adoption of available animals, in face I think they were at 93%. Yes, that means some did not make it into homes but FCNMHP helps sponsor along with PetSmart Charities a quarterly MEGA adoptathon (one is being held this weekend) where up 1000 animals get adopted. It clears out all of the shelters and rescues to make room for the next group. I am so proud of the work FCNMHP does, and do donate and volunteer with them.

  22. Thankfully Germany has only NoKill-Shelters. The only animals killed in there are those who are ill beyond recovery.
    Additionally those organisations hold spay/neuter-events. Still – so many people are still irresponsible, have free roaming cats which are not spayed and add to the problem.

  23. mariodacat on said:

    Excellent post Savvy. We totally agree with you. Yes, it is too bad that the kitties have to be released back into the “wild” so to speak. But if they are feral, they don’t stand a chance in a shelter as no too many people would adopt them. I honestly don’t know what the answer is, but I do know that TNR is a step in the right direction. If we can control the population from exploding, maybe some day we won’t have so many feral, unwanted kitties left to fend for themselves.

  24. Wow! This is such an important endeavor, and how awesome to take part in it! This is a huge operation but with smaller TNR days, I hear that sometimes nurses and volunteers cuddle the ferals while they are out… the only time they are able to have a loving touch from a human….

  25. Thank you Linda for sharing your TNR story with us! We are running a tNR program here in town & have reduced the feline population greatly.
    We have found that people still are dumping cats tho’ so it seems just as we get things under control (as in all spayed/neutered) we are back doing more live trapping & the cycle of begins again!
    We do not have the volume you do but our stats prove we are making a difference. Last year 20 ferals will caught. 3 were very ill & humanely put to sleep. 17 were fixed & 14 of them were actually ADOPTED & are still in their new homes. We returend only 3 to the riverbank.
    It is an neverending job but so worthwhile the effort!
    Love from Sherri-Ellen & Nylablue & our 2 ferals Hercule Purr-o & Greyboy here.

    • So happy to hear that 14 were adoptable from 20 caught!

      • Hello Franhunne4U: 14 out of 20 is pretty good. We are a small communtiy of 22,000 plus outlying countryside. We have 2 colonies & suspect a 3rd. I feed 2 ferals on my patio nightly. They are so feral they will not even look at me or respond in any way. At least I know they are not starving but I’d sure like to TNR the boys…..I am glad to hear Germany is NO Kill as I am 1/2 German on father’s side!!!! Proud of the Homeland!!!
        Sincerely, Sherri-Ellen

        • Yes, it sounds astonishing! Most ferals are like those two boys at your patio – far beyong socialising with humans. Only the younger ones – or the ones who had at least some good contact with humans – have a chance. I admired your number!

          • It is a good start Franhunne4u. We are hoping people will not dump anymore…we can hope…
            You are right that ferals must be caught before they get to the point of not trusting humans. I would love to adopt Purr-o but he runs away. At elast I can feed him & he knows there is somewhere to get food now.

          • Maybe one day he will come closer. You know, it took me 7 months to gain the trust of a feral, I had got from the cat shelter – at which she was for a year. Now she is the most adorable pet possible, always snuggling!

          • Hello Franhunne4U with all the destruction of gardens & aptios & bushes & tree removed it will be hard to get Hercule Poirot near me…all I can hope for is to feed him & Greyboy & anyone else who shows up. Sadly my hands are tied where I live…long story…
            At least the ones in the colonies are safe.

  26. good job Miss Linda. it can be hard work…and harder to let them go. but hopefully they are going back to managed colonies. and there are less babies – and these cats aren’t dying in shelters just because they are feral. you made a difference and that is HUGE!

  27. Cary Vaughn on said:

    This is wonderful. I have discussed with my partner on how it would be good for ferals to be spay or neutered to control the feral cat population so that they won’t end up starving or in shelters (REALLY wish there was a free spay/neuter program for our city). I had no idea this program existed. How long do these cats stay in recovery until they are released?

    • A few hours. All are released back to the individuals or rescues who trapped them on the same day they are spayed,neutered. The males are likely released back to the outdoors immediately while most will hold and care for the females for a few days. They will keep them in the traps but they clean the trap, feed etc daily. Good luck

  28. I will share your post, of course. That was a very touching post, I wish I could hold all the cats there in my arms just for a moment to show them that I’m there to hold their paws. Many thanks to you for all what you did .

  29. Wow! That must have been so powerful for you. So so so many feral kitties in the world, at least some towns are trying their best to prevent it. Not here 😦
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

    • It was a total eye opener for us. We are joining the No Kill Movement by working with a local group to move through our county political structure to try to get our county kill shelters changed to No Kill and to change our community’s attitude toward animal control to No Kill

  30. smseattle on said:

    Thank you, Linda, for your thorough, personal, and honest post on TNR. I hope a lot of people will read it!

  31. I cried through the whole post – very moving, touching, hopeful yet sad… least these cats won’t be perpetuating the feral cat problem but will they have a life such as they deserve? Many ferals will find a home which is a wonderful thing (Sammy was a feral kitten) – but so many others spend their lives just surviving by their wits or the kindness of strangers. Thanks for sharing this REAL LIFE situation – TNR is a blessing in every single way and thanks for helping in the effort Linda…………..

    Hugs, Pam

    • Hey Sammy and Miss Pam. This experience has changed Mom and will be changing Dad (she is taking him in Oct). They never go to the kill shelter because it is too sad and they always feel so helpless. Now they have something they can ‘do’. Mom L just wanted to walk around and pick up all those sleeping cats and love on them just so they would have that experience…but they TNR’d about 100 cats on Sunday, so she had to get back to her post. Thank you for reading and caring

  32. Thanks for the inside look! Definitely will share. It’s important for people to see! – Crepes.

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