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An update on our Trap, Neuter, Return programme

Mayhew has recently carried out a review across all our areas of work to ensure that our vital services continue to make a real difference.

As a result of this review, we’re pausing our Trap, Neuter, Return (TNR) programme this year. During this pause, we’ll be conducting research into how we can best tackle the issue of feral cats in our communities, with the aim of continuing our TNR programme with improved practices next year. During the pause, we will continue to assist cat feeders with various TNR cases.

What is Trap, Neuter, Return?

Trap, Neuter, Return (TNR) programmes help to control and contain the cat populations. There are many cat colonies in London and it is important that they are neutered to prevent further breeding and are health checked to prevent the spread of diseases such as Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) and Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV).

Feral cats have different needs to their domestic relations and it’s important that these needs are taken into consideration by those carrying out TNR work. After they have been neutered, cats are then released back to their colony location, providing the area is safe for them to do so.

How to spot a feral cat?

Whilst the term ‘feral cat’ brings to mind images of hissing, spitting, wild looking cats, they are very indistinguishable from domestic cats. It’s their behaviour that tends to be the give-away. A stray or abandoned cat will often not shy away from people, whereas a feral cat is fearful of people and so tends to keep a distance. A feral cat will not allow itself to be touched or handled by a person. They can never be tame, and will suffer a great deal if forced to live inside. If a cat is feral, the most compassionate option is to keep them feral – trying to tame a feral and bring them indoors will only cause undue stress and harm to the cat’s health and mental well-being.

Feral colonies

Feral cats often live in colonies, within close proximity to food sources and shelter. Some colonies can become ‘semi-feral’ if someone is putting out food, and the cats will sometimes become accustomed to the presence of the feeder. They will, however, remain fearful of humans, keep their distance and remain untamed.

Most of these colonies originate from stray cats that have not been neutered. However, if the colony is controlled (neutered), healthy and stable, it will deter other feral cats from moving in and will also keep vermin levels down.