Application of a Protocol Based on Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) to Manage Unowned Urban Cats on an Australian University Campus
Australian Pet Welfare Foundation, Kenmore, QLD 4069, Australia
Campus Cats NSW, Kensington, NSW 2033, Australia
School of Optometry and Vision Science, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia
School of Veterinary Science, The University of Queensland, Gatton, QLD 4343, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 16 April 2018
Revised: 10 May 2018
Accepted: 11 May 2018
Published: 17 May 2018
In Australia, management of the unowned urban cat population is a continuing challenge. This is because the numbers of cats culled in trap-and-kill programs are inadequate to balance the breeding rate of the remaining cats, and also because of immigration of sexually active cats from surrounding areas in a “vacuum” effect into areas where culling has been applied. In contrast, programs based on management of cat reproduction, such as trap-neuter-return (TNR), supplemented by rehoming of socializable cats and kittens, have been shown to produce significant reductions in free-living cat populations. However, evidence is lacking that these approaches are effective in an Australian context. In this paper, we document a nine-year TNR program on an Australian university campus, supplemented by rehoming, that reduced a free-living cat population from 69 to 15 cats, while also rehoming 19 campus-born kittens and managing a further 34 immigrant cats that either joined the resident colony (n = 16), were rehomed (n = 15), or died/disappeared (n = 3). Subsequent institutional support for the program was strong because of a reduction in complaints from campus staff and students, the minimal institutional costs, and the improved health status of the remaining cats, all of which are desexed, microchipped, registered and fed on a daily basis.