Commnity Cats and TNR

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Trap, Neuter, and Return (TNR)?

TNR is a system designed to help stabilize a group of outdoor cats (sometimes referred to as “community cats”) by reducing their ability to breed and providing them with essential vaccines. The trapping is accomplished using humane, food-baited traps in the territory the cats are inhabiting. After a cat is trapped, it is brought to a vet clinic or humane agency for sterilization surgery (spay or neuter) and vaccination. While the cat is still under anesthesia, he will also be “ear-tipped.”*  At CCHS, this whole process takes just a couple of hours and the cat can be released back into the field that same day.

What is “ear tipping”?

Ear tipping is a procedure done while an animal is under anesthesia and involves removing the tip of the cat’s ear, leaving a flat line where the point used to be. This is a widely-known indicator that a cat has already been sterilized. Sterilizing a colony of community cats can be a months-long process involving many volunteers. When a volunteer sees that a trapped cat is already ear-tipped, she knows that cat can be immediately released and does not need surgery.

What are community cats?

“Community cats” is an umbrella term to define all cats that are outside. Community cats can be owned cats that are indoor/outdoor, cats that have been lost or abandoned, or cats that are feral, “wild cats,” that live outdoors in the community. 

How do I distinguish between friendly and feral cats?

Friendly outdoor cats will be more used to humans and may even seek out human interaction. They likely, at one point, relied on, or cohabitated with people and view them as positive. They may meow when you approach, follow you, or solicit attention.

Feral cats are, for all intents and purposes, wild animals. These cats are unlikely to approach you and will often scatter before you are able to get close to them. They are unlikely to vocalize or seek out any type of interaction with people. 

What should I do if there are feral cats in my neighborhood?

When you see feral cats in your neighborhood, you can bet that there are resources nearby. Cats are great survivors and they will travel to wherever they can find food, water, and shelter. Sometimes that means unsecured garbage cans or an abundant rodent population. Other times, well-intentioned people provide food for feral cats, making your neighborhood attractive to more feral cats. Unfortunately, dealing with feral cats is a problem every community faces and there is no simple solution. The best available approach for addressing a feral cat situation is TNR.  

Who should I call about outdoor cats in my community?

If you wish to have the cats trapped, neutered, and returned, reaching out to an organization that can provide that service would be the best course of action. If you reach out to your local animal shelter, they may be able to direct you to other organizations that provide this service if they do not provide it directly. If you simply wish to remove nuisance cats from your neighborhood, you should reach out to your local municipality (animal control) and see if they have any means of addressing the situation. It is uncommon for organizations to provide any type of relocation for free roaming cats. 

Trap, Neuter, and Return Resources

CCHS Trap, Neuter, and Return Program

This program is open to everyone, but Champaign County residences will be given priority. This program is for feral cats in the community and all cats must be brought to the facility in live traps the morning of the surgery. You can call CCHS at 217-344-7297 and speak to Elijah Imlay, to arrange a surgery date. 

Currently surgeries are performed only on Wednesdays. The cat(s) will be brought in at 8:00AM on the date of surgery. Unless otherwise arranged, the person dropping them off for surgery will need to be the owner/caretaker. The caretaker will have to complete some paperwork permitting us to perform the surgery. The cats will receive their surgery in the morning and be ready for pick up in the afternoon that same day. 

Trap Rental Program

There are many different styles of traps on the market. At CCHS, we have two different styles available; the standard Tomahawk cat trap, as well as, a TruCatch cat trap. Both traps are humane, pressure plated traps that are baited with food. The cat walks in to eat, steps on a pressure plate, and a door behind them closes. 

Traps are available for rent on a first come, first served basis. There is no fee to rent a trap but you must fill out a rental agreement. Please call the shelter to arrange a time to pick up the trap. If you are unfamiliar with how a live trap works, a staff member will walk you through how and where to set the trap to be the most successful.