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Trap, Neuter & Release

The trap, neuter and return program, TNR, is gaining popularity across the country.  Why?  

Because it is the most humane way to stop the reproduction cycle in feral colonies.  

Lee County is one of the participating counties in the TNR program.

Here is how it works:

A feral colony can be recognized by the presence of cats outside that are skittish, afraid, aggressive, and just looking for food, and a warm place to sleep.


Once a colony has been found, traps can be borrowed from Lee County Animal Services.  

There is a $75 deposit required, but it is returned when the traps are returned to Lee County Animal Services.  

These traps are safe for the cats, and allow the Animal Services employees to treat the cats with less potential of personal harm.  

Animal services also requires an appointment for the number of cats you think will be trapped.

The kitties need to be trapped the night prior to the appointment.  


Once they are trapped, move them to a quiet, sheltered area and cover the trap so the cat will stay calm.  

No food or water can be given to them after midnight the night prior to surgery.  

There is paperwork that needs to be filled out, and you can save time in the morning if you pick it up when you pick up the traps.  

Otherwise, you will need to fill it out once you get there with the cats.  

Drop off time at Animal Services is at 8:00 in the morning in the blue building, marked Spay and Neuter Clinic.

The vets at Animal Services will do the surgery, give a rabies vaccine, insert a microchip and tip their ear as a universal symbol that the cat has been through the TNR program.  

Pick up time is between 3:00 and 3:30 in the afternoon.  

They ask that you hold the cat in the trap or a cage until the following day for a male, and up to 3 days for a female to ensure that they are fully awake and into the healing process before releasing them.

When you take a cat in through the TNR program, you are agreeing to continue to feed, water and care for the animal outside.  


No license is required for a TNR cat, but basis needs must be met.

TNR cats are protected through the county and the state of Florida.  

Harming or killing a TNR cat is against the law in Florida!  

We have provided a link to the TNR program through the Lee County Animal Services website.  

You can contact us with questions, or email Animal Services directly.  

We have also included a link to our email, if you are interested in helping with the TNR program.  

We need to assemble teams of volunteers willing to trap, transport, and recuperate TNR cats.  

Please if you have some free time and would like to be a part of a great program, email us soon.

Trap Neuter Release

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Appraoching a Cat



With patience and the right approach, you can help a frightened stray cat relax and reveal his/her true personality…(hopefully sweet!)

  • Give the cat 48 hours of undisturbed, quiet down-time in a small den or bathroom.  A feral cat is best caged.

  • Be predictable and consistent.  Don’t make fast movements or make a lot of noise.  Talk softly and alert the cat with your voice before you open the door.  Spot clean only at this time.

  • Always wash your hands before approaching the cat.  Their noses are 40 times more discerning than ours, and they may smell something on your hands that frightens or upsets them.  Always use fresh, clean linens, carrier, beds, toys, as well as food and water dishes.

  • Let the cat approach you first.  Let the cat smell your hand, and let them know that your hand is not something they need to worry about.

  • After the 48 hours, you cannot keep the cat totally isolated.  You need to start the positive behaviors and reinforcements.  Remember, talk softly and move slowly.

  • Do not stare directly into the cat’s eyes.  This could be seen as a threat.  If the cat is looking directly at you, slowly blink your eyes several times.  An approachable cat will most likely blink back at you.

  • Don’t let the cat hide all of the time.  If there is something that the cat is consistently hiding in, remove it and replace it with something that he/she can not hide in.

  • Encourage the cat to approach with food, treats, petting, or toys.  If the cat allows petting, it is a good time to check for flea dirt, ticks, or anything that shouldn’t be on his/her skin or coat.

  • Hissing is the language of the cat and is usually used as a warning.  Low growling is an expression of anxiety.  Ears pinned back is also a warning.  A wagging tail with a cat is not a sign that the cat is happy, but usually a sign of irritation.

  • Do not attempt to pick up the cat just yet.  Some cats may never enjoy being picked up.

  • When the cat is approaching you freely, and loving your attention, you can start picking him/her up.  But it must be done correctly.  Start out with very short pickups, using both hands, one in front and one supporting behind the back legs, pick up and snuggle close.  Immediately scratch in the cat’s favorite spot and talk softly.  As soon as the cat starts to struggle, gently put the cat back down.  Never let the cat struggle in your arms.  The cat needs to know that being picked up is a good thing.  Next time, try to hold a tiny bit longer, and put back down.  It takes patience, but it is well worth the time.

  • Always use a top loading carrier, or turn the front loading carrier on its end, and carefully set the cat into the carrier back feet first.  Do not drop the cat into the carrier!!  Face first can be scary to many cats.

  • If you need to scruff a cat, always support the body with your other hand under the back legs.  Never let a cat dangle with just a scruff!

  • Never reach into a carrier or cage of a cat you don’t know and grab the cat!  Remember, if you don’t know the cat, then he/she doesn’t know you either.

  • Pheromone plug-ins, calming sprays and elixirs, and treats can be helpful.  Give them a try.

Approaching a Cat
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