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Trap, Neuter and Release


TNR program definition:

Trap/Neuter/Return (TNR) is a humane and non-lethal approach to long term community and feral cat population control.

Gray Cat

Why it works

  • Evidence shows that previous practices involving trapping and euthanasia are not effective population control methods for community cats. The remaining few cats will breed, and in some cases over-breed to replace the missing cats.
  • Since cats are territorial, simply removing the cats will only open up the area for a new colony to move in.
  • TNR has proven to be the most effective method of reducing the number of community cats in a specific area over the long-term. It stops the problem because it stops the breeding.
  • Community cat caregivers provide day-to-day care & monitoring of the colony so that any newcomers can be quickly trapped and sterilized.
  • The negative impact of the cats is greatly reduced simply by spaying/neutering and is further reduced as the number of cats decrease. Neutered cats make less noise and fight less. i.e. No late-night howling, fighting, smelly male urine, or unwanted kittens.
  • The cats did not choose to be wild but were simply born in to this environment.  Once feral cats arrive at shelters there is little options for them as they are not friendly cuddly companions. The TNR program provides these cats a chance to live out their natural lives in a healthy manner.


Community vs. Feral

Community Cat vs. Feral:

Cat in tree

Community Cat

A "Community cat" is an umbrella definition that includes any free roaming cat. These cats may be "feral" (un-socialized) or friendly, may have been born into the wild or may be pet cats that roam outdoors.

Feral Cat

A "feral" cat is a cat who has reverted in some degree to a wild state. They originate from former domestic cats who then learned to live outdoors or in environments involving little human contact. They are not social to humans and tend to retreat or avoid human contact if approached. In most cases, feral cats are not completely wild because they still depend on people for their food source, whether it's a daily caretaker, a dumpster outside a restaurant, garbage cans, or the like. Relatively few feral cats subsist only by hunting.

Ear Tipping

Why do they have a tipped ear?

Cat with tipped ear

Ear-tipping is an effective and universally accepted method to identify a spayed or neutered and vaccinated community cat.  This is done while the cat is anesthetized for spay/neutering and healing is rapid.

The ear tip helps the community to quickly identify that the cat is sterilized (cannot reproduce) as it is difficult to get close to feral cats, and therefore the identification must be visible from a distance. Community cats may interact with a variety of caregivers, veterinarians, and animal control personnel during their lives and so immediate visual identification is necessary to prevent an unnecessary second trapping and surgery.

Want to become a caregiver or need help with a site?

Contact or call 385-232-4176.

Cat Deterrents

Need cat deterrents?

Gray and White Cat


Utah Community Cat Act:

West's Utah Code Annotated, Title 11. Cities, Counties, and Local Taxing Units, Chapter 46. Animal Welfare Act. Part 3. Community Cat Act

Citation: U.C.A. 1953 § 11-46-301 - 304, UT ST § 11-46-301 - 304
Last Checked 11/2013 

Summary:Under the Utah Community Cat Act, a shelter may release a cat prior to the 5-day holding period to a sponsor operating a community cat program. Such a cat is exempt from licensing requirements and feeding bans.  Community cat sponsors or caretakers do not have custody of any cat, and sterilization and vaccination records must be maintained for a minimum of three years.


Statute in Full:

§ 11-46-301. Title

§ 11-46-302. Definitions

§ 11-46-303. Community cats

§ 11-46-304. Permit process for community cat colonies

§ 11-46-301. Title

This part is known as the “Community Cat Act.”

Credits Laws 2011, c. 130, § 12, eff. May 10, 2011.

§ 11-46-302. Definitions

In addition to the definitions in Sections 11-46-102 and 11-46-202, as used in this part:

(1) “Community cat” means a feral or free-roaming cat that is without visibly discernable or microchip owner identification of any kind, and has been sterilized, vaccinated, and ear-tipped.

(2) “Community cat caretaker” means any person other than an owner who provides food, water, or shelter to a community cat or community cat colony.

(3) “Community cat colony” means a group of cats that congregate together. Although not every cat in a colony may be a community cat, any cats owned by individuals that congregate with a colony are considered part of it.

(4) “Community cat program” means a program pursuant to which feral cats are sterilized, vaccinated against rabies, ear-tipped, and returned to the location where they congregate.

(5) “Ear-tipping” means removing approximately a quarter-inch off the tip of a cat's left ear while the cat is anesthetized for sterilization.

(6) “Feral” has the same meaning as in Section 23-13-2.

(7) “Sponsor” means any person or organization that traps feral cats, sterilizes, vaccinates against rabies, and ear-tips them before returning them to the location where they were trapped. A sponsor may be any animal humane society, non-profit organization, animal rescue, adoption organization, or a designated community cat caretaker that also maintains written records on community cats.

Credits Laws 2011, c. 130, § 13, eff. May 10, 2011.

§ 11-46-303. Community cats

(1) A cat received by a shelter under the provisions of Section 11-46-103 may be released prior to the five-day holding period to a sponsor that operates a community cat program.

(2) A community cat is:

(a) exempt from licensing requirements and feeding bans; and

(b) eligible for release from an animal shelter prior to the mandatory five-day hold period in Section 11-46-103.

(3) Community cat sponsors or caretakers do not have custody, as defined in Section 76-9-301, of any cat in a community cat colony. Cats in a colony that are obviously owned, as evidenced by a collar, tags, microchip, or other discernable owner identification, are not exempt from the provisions of Title 76, Chapter 9, Part 3, Cruelty to Animals.

(4) Sterilization and vaccination records shall be maintained for a minimum of three years and be available to an animal control officer upon request.

Credits Laws 2011, c. 130, § 14, eff. May 10, 2011.

§ 11-46-304. Permit process for community cat colonies

(1) A county or municipality may create a permitting process for community cat colonies.

(2) Any permitting process created by a county or municipality shall provide notice to adjacent property owners by:

(a) mailing notice to the record owner of each parcel within parameters specified by the permitting process; or

(b) posting notice on the property with a sign of sufficient size, durability, print quality, and location that is reasonably calculated to give notice to passers-by.

Credits Laws 2011, c. 130, § 15, eff. May 10, 2011.

Animal Services
511 West 3900 South  
Salt Lake City, UT 84123
Phone: (385) 468-7387
Fax: (385) 468-6028
Hours: By Appt Only

Closed Sundays and Holidays

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