For decades, animal shelters in the U.S. have sought to reduce the number of cats that are impounded and euthanized. Since the 1990s, low-cost sterilization campaigns aimed at owned cats have achieved varying levels of success in meeting these objectives. Over a similar time period, the use of trap-neuter-vaccinate-return (TNVR), as a humane alternative to the lethal management of stray and feral cats, has proliferated. Because of the limited scope of many TNVR programs, the impacts of such efforts on shelter metrics have often proven difficult to measure. In the past decade, two new variants of TNVR, return-to-field (RTF) and high-impact targeting, have exhibited the capacity to contribute to significant reductions in shelter intake and euthanasia. The present study examines changes in feline intake and euthanasia, as well as impacts on associated metrics, at municipal shelters located in six diverse U.S. communities after integrated programs of RTF and targeted TNVR (collectively termed “community cat programs,” CCPs) were implemented. A total of 72,970 cats were enrolled in six 3-year CCPs, 71,311 of whom (98%) were sterilized, vaccinated, and returned to their location of capture or adopted. A median reduction of 32% in feline intake, as well as a median decline of 83% in feline euthanasia occurred across the six CCPs; median feline live-release rate increased by 53% as a result of these simultaneous declines in cat admissions and euthanasia. The integration of RTF and targeted TNVR protocols appears to result in greater feline intake and euthanasia reductions than programs lacking such an integrated approach.
Spehar, D.D. & Wolf P.J. (2019) Integrated return-to-field and targeted trap-neuter-vaccinate-return programs result in reductions of feline intake and euthanasia at six municipal animal shelters. Frontiers in Veterinary Science. 2019 Mar 21;6:77. https://doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2019.00077