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What is TNR?

TNR means "Trap, Neuter, Return." This means that stray and feral cats are humanely trapped, spayed or neutered, vaccinated against disease, and returned to their home where they can live out the rest of their lives in peace without the capability of reproducing and contributing to the overpopulation of feral colonies. In a lot of ways, TNR is more important than kitten rescue because it stops the problem at the source. Here at Kawakuji, anytime we receive a call about kittens that have been orphaned or are otherwise in need of help, we also try to TNR the area. By doing this, we are ensuring that fewer kittens are born on the street where they are statistically more likely to die.

Additionally, Kawakuji Animal Rescue is a collaborative volunteer of the Public Interest Incorporated Foundation Animal Fund aiming for zero culling. TNR is performed using the "Sakura Neko TNR Free Sterilization Ticket" issued by the animal foundation, and the animal foundation will bear the full cost of the sterilization operation performed by using the ticket. 


The Benefits

In addition to stabilizing and reducing the population of stray animals, TNR allows these cats to receive sometimes life-saving medical care. We always vaccinate our TNR'd animals against common feline diseases that are particularly dangerous for cats living outdoors. For female cats, spaying them eliminates the chance of developing pyometra - an infection of the uterus. Furthermore, sterilization greatly reduces undesirable behaviors related to mating, such as yowling and fighting. This makes it easier for people in the community to live together with these strays!

By TNR'ing a local colony, we are also stopping the "vacuum effect." This occurs when there is space and resources for new animals to move into an area that was previously occupied by other cats. If a colony is simply removed and not returned, new cats will move in to the space, or the surviving cats left behind will breed to capacity. Due to the vacuum effect, other methods of removing feral cats are often pointless and ineffective. 


Typical TNR Procedures

For every job there is a perfect tool. For TNR, that means humane traps, of which there are various kinds: drop traps & transfer cages, spring-loaded traps, gravity traps, set over capture cages, etc.

**We do not recommend using nets to catch cats as the risk of injury is high. Please use humane traps and proper equipment whenever possible** 

You will also need bait for your traps. If you use canned fish, please be sure that it is not in oil, but in water. Catnip can also make your bait extra appealing. It is also good to have:

  • Pee pads

  • Newspaper

  • Tape

  • Trap covers *protip: covering a trap with a towel or bedsheet will immediately calm scared kitties down

Please note, before you go trapping, you MUST make an appointment with a veterinarian or TNR clinic. If you do not have an appointment, they will not take the cat you trapped, no matter how hard you tried or how long it took you to catch them. So, do your due diligence and carefully coordinate and plan your TNR project. 


Extra Tips When Trapping

The first rule of using a humane trap is to NEVER, EVER leave a trap unattended. Horrible things have happened to cats in unattended traps. Not only that, but spring-loaded traps can also injure or kill a cat that follows another in. In that case, please opt to trigger the trap manually; for example, you can tie a string to a bottle of water and use it to prop the trap door open. Every trap is different and some traps are less secure than others, so if necessary, use cable ties or carabiners to make sure your catch does not escape!

**It is important to note that cats are incredibly cautious and smart. If you catch a cat, make sure they get spayed/neutered because after you release it, you may never be able to catch that cat again. 

The second rule of humane traps is to remember hygiene. Stray cats can carry various diseases such as FIV, FELV, Feline Panleukopenia Virus (FPLV, also known as parvovirus), etc. Some of these diseases are transmitted through contact with blood and others with saliva. So for the safety of other furry felines on the street, as well as your own furry companions at home, be sure to thoroughly wash and sanitize any and all trapping materials with cleaners such as bleach, Rescue, Peletty (in Japan), Virkon, or anything else proven to kill these viruses. This also means that after a day of trapping, it is wise to change your clothes immediately after you are finished cleaning and interacting with the traps so you do not accidently give your pets at home any deadly diseases. 


TNR Resources

Colony feeders will sometimes take their street cats to a regular veterinarian and pay for their spay/neuter out of their own pockets one at a time. In Japan, the surgery alone can cost ¥10,000-¥30,000 per cat. This does not include flea/dewormer, vaccine, or an ear-tip. However, taking a stray cat to a TNR clinic is not only cheaper and includes flea/dewormer, vaccine, and ear-tip, the surgical incision is purposefully much smaller than at a regular veterinarian to ensure quick post-op healing. 


Spay/neuter surgery at TNR clinics costs roughly ¥5000-¥8000 per cat which, while more affordable, can add up quickly with the added costs of vaccine and dewormer. 

However, there are some helpful resources available for those trying to TNR in their area. 

  • Doubutsu Kikin: This organization offers Sakuraneko TNR tickets that cover the cost of the surgery. The cost of vaccine and dewormer comes to roughly ¥1800-¥4000 per cat. Anyone can apply for free. 

  • Pawer: This organization has endless information on animal welfare in Japan, and occasionally offers TNR grants of up to ¥10,000 per person and ¥30,000 per organization. 

  • You can post on the popular Facebook group Japan Cat Network to see if anyone has recommendations for your area. 

  • There may also be services or subsidies offered by your city hall. 


Communication with Neighbors

TNR is still a relatively new concept in Japan, so community outreach and communication is important. Some people simply do not know what to do about the cats in their area and do not know where to look for help. If you are reading this, you are already one step ahead!

Before planning a TNR project, try to talk to neighbors and feeders about the benefits of TNR and how it will help stray cats lead healthier (and oftentimes quieter) lives. Or talk to a community leader about your efforts and have them introduce you to other community members. There is no easier TNR project than one where feeders can place all the cats into carriers for you! 

TNR Resources: What We Do
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