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Feral Cat Program


Tipped Ear


The following pictures are of Feral Cats who were adopted.  You can see how the ears have been tipped.


Tarzan, a male cat with
 left ear tipped


What are Feral Cats?

Feral cats are cats that are afraid of people.  An abandoned cat becomes a stray.  A stray begins to fend for itself and eventually learns to distrust human beings.  Her kittens will be even more wary of humans.  Over time, there will be a whole colony of feral cats.  The feral colony will have  a food source, which is often a kind-hearted person who cannot afford to have the cats spayed and neutered, and could not catch them even if the money were available.

What is TNR?

TNR is a method of controlling the feral cat population by humanely Trapping them, having them Neutered, vaccinating them, and Returning them to their familiar habitat.  TNR is  effective because it produces healthy but diminishing feral cat colonies that do not exhibit the nuisance behaviors of unaltered cats.

What is the RCHS Feral Cat Program?

In Rutherford County, we have an abundant feral cat population. Our RCHS uses TNR (Trap/Neuter/Return) to deal with this problem. We have various means of trapping, tailoring our approach to the individual colony. We transport the trapped cats in carriers to several local veterinarians. The cats are surgically sterilized, given rabies and PVR shots and flea treatment, and ear-tipped. By removing the tip of one ear (left ear for males, right for females), we are able to mark the cat for later identification as a cat that is sterile and vaccinated. Female cats are sutured with "super glue" rather than conventional stitches so that they are free to go the day after surgery. We return all cats to their original colony location unless we find that a tame, adoptable cat is in the group.

What do we do with tame cats and kittens?

Tame cats and kittens small enough to be tamed are removed from their feral colony and adopted out through the RCHS or local veterinarians whenever possible, unless the caretaker prefers to keep them.

What About a Single Stray Cat?Free roaming and stray cats also come under our feral cat program. A stray cat left unaltered and unfed is a feral cat in the making! We have helped with small and single cat groups all over Rutherford County.

What about the long-term care of these cats?The RCHS always makes plans with a caretaker for the continued care of the cats we TNR. Feral colonies that are cared for by elderly or indigent caretakers fall under our "Feral Meals on Wheels" program. Local grocery stores give us dry food from damaged bags, but Humane Society members purchase the bulk of this food themselves. This food project is a good way to visit lonely elders in our county as well as to keep up with their colonies, which sometimes attract new strays that need TNR.How many feral cats has the RCHS TNR'ed so far?The Rutherford County Humane Society began assisting a few caretakers of feral colonies in 1999. By the end of 2003 we had TNRed 134 cats and kittens. In 2004 we increased our efforts and with the help of several grants and with contributions to the Feral Cat Program, we have been able to TNR 3,674 feral and stray cats by the end of December, 2013.

As the number grows we will keep you posted on this website.