I volunteer at an animal shelter. It’s rewarding work but often sad as well.

We’re a no-kill cat shelter. On the surface, that sounds wonderful, and it is. We don’t kill cats that have been there “too long” in order to make room for new cats. However, what that means is we become filled to capacity quickly – and often. If our older cats are not adopted, and sadly, most people choose kittens over adult cats, then they remain with us until they live out their natural lives, never to have a loving family of their own. That severely limits our ability to rescue new cats or kittens and get them into loving homes.

This is kitten season. Kittens arrive at the shelter en masse now and while MOST of them will find homes, the young mothers of these kittens will be returned from whence they came. Yes, they’ve been spayed, so they will not repopulate the area, but they’re out there on their own again, having to fend for themselves. Why? Because we haven’t the room to house them.

The most humane way to treat the cat overpopulation problem is with a relatively simple thing called “TNR”, or trap-neuter-return. Strays are humanely trapped, spayed or neutered, allowed to heal, then returned to their community. Sadly, some of the trapped cats were once family pets but have since been abandoned for various reasons – some of which you cannot imagine. They’re friendly and innocent and have only survived the ‘wild’ because of luck. They need homes. They need to feel and be safe again. Unless the cat population is controlled by the practice of TNR, too many of these sweet things will continue to reproduce and add yet more strain on an already strained system – where too many shelters filled to capacity will destroy the animals they hold or be so overwhelmed they’ll unwittingly lose sight of the reason they’re volunteering there in the first place. To rescue animals and to find them safe and loving homes where they can give (and receive) affection only those privy to a cat’s world will ever fully appreciate.

Trap-neuter-return. A solution to so many problems.

And on a personal note – Bonita, you sweet beautiful thing, you will be missed by all of us, human and feline alike.

5 Responses to TNR

  • Debbie, I admire the volunteering you are doing at the shelter. The program to trap, neuter, and return cats is a good one! It would be wonderful if adult cats were adopted as readily as the kittens. A couple on my street, Tony and Layla, adopt old dogs from the shelter. They love and care for their “new” dog for the rest of their pet’s life, and then they’re back for another. I imagine you do the same with cats. Too bad we can’t save the world and take all of them.

  • Kathleen,
    I love being at the shelter. It gives me a chance to give love and attention to these homeless babies. How wonderful that your neighbors take old dogs from shelters. When I adopted my dog, back in 1988, she was on her last hours at a shelter. She was only five but had been there ‘too long’ and so they were going to put her down. I adored that little pup(her photo is first on the sidebar of this blog. Isn’t she precious?) and had her best-friendship for just over 11 years. I rescued her that day and every single day forward, she thanked me with love. I’m with you, if only we could save the world and take them all.


  • Aww. The video was so poignant. What a touching memorial. Just think, you were able to give her love in her last days. That’s something to cherish.


  • Oh my gosh, you made me cry! What a perfect name for her “pretty”. In the video of her in the basket I could almost hear her purring. What lovely work you do at the shelter however small it may seem to you, it is huge to those cats.

  • Bonita was a lucky cat. Beth, I could “hear” her purring also.

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