Trap, Neuter, and Return (TNR)

HSHV's Trap, Neuter, and Return Program aims to reduce the overpopulation of free roaming community cats while supporting a higher quality of life and reducing unnecessary euthanasia of cats. 

What is Trap, Neuter, Return (TNR)?

Trap, Neuter, and Return, also known as TNR, is exactly what it sounds like. It is a program for free roaming community cats to be sterilized and returned to their habitats. All the cats in a colony are humanely trapped in live traps and brought to HSHV’s Clinic. The trapping can be performed by the colony caretaker, HSHV volunteers, or HSHV staff.

Once the cats are at HSHV, they are sterilized, vaccinated against the rabies virus, given an ear tip on their left ear, and all females are treated with a dose of penicillin to aid in the healing process from surgery. After sterilization, the cat stays at HSHV overnight to recuperate from surgery. Cats are then returned to their original habitat and released. Colony caretakers continue to provide food, water, and shelter, as well as monitor the health of the colony.

TNR is the only method proven to be humane and effective at controlling outdoor cat population growth. The goal of any community cat management program is to maximize the quality of life for the cats, to eliminate the existing colony over time through attrition, and to elevate the worth of community cats, and cats in general, through education and awareness.


How can I utilize the TNR Program?

Cats can be brought to HSHV’s Clinic Mondays through Thursdays from 8AM to 6PM for check in; no appointment is required.  Each cat must be in a live trap, and not a carrier.  This is not only for the safety of our staff, but also for the safety of the cat.  If a bite occurs during the cat’s stay, HSHV will follow the Washtenaw County’s public health rabies protocol, which involves a 10-day quarantine.  If you trap a cat during our closed hours, you should move the trap to a quiet location, keep it covered with a sheet or towel, and bring the cat to HSHV’s Clinic as soon as we open.  Upon arrival to the Clinic, you will be asked to fill out a waiver, and payment will be due at this time.

How much does TNR cost?

If you are in Washtenaw County or Plymouth, our TNR services can be utilized for only $20 per cat.  If you reside outside of these service areas, you can still use our TNR program for $75 per cat. 

If I don't have a live trap what can I do?

We have live traps available for rental at HSHV.  Trap rentals are only for cats coming through our TNR program.  Trap rentals are $75 each, with $65 being refunded to you when you return the trap.  You can also check out our Additional Resources page to find a link where you can purchase your own live trap.

I have a large colony and am unable to trap on my own. Can anyone help me?

Yes, HSHV has volunteers and staff members trained to help with large-scale trappings.  Please contact our Community Cat Coordinator at or 734-661-3523 to learn more. 

How can I get involved further with TNR?

Visit our HSHV Community Cat Training Classes page to sign up for a class.  You’ll learn more about the philosophy behind TNR, general trapping and care of cats, and more.  You can also sign up to volunteer for ongoing TNR duties such as sheet cutting, trap cleaning, flyer posting, and others.  See our Volunteer page to learn more.

Community Cat Program Statistics

  • Nearly 10,000 cats have been sterilized through HSHV's TNR Program since 2007.
  • Last year, 1,680 cats came through HSHV's TNR Program.
  • The number of stray and abandoned kittens coming into our shelter has dropped 23% since HSHV started our TNR Program.
  • To see a map of the areas that HSHV's Community Cat Program has performed TNR service, please click here

Help HSHV Monitor Community Cats in Washtenaw County

You can help HSHV track and monitor feral cat colonies in Washtenaw County. None of your personal information will be shared and we do not publish specific addresses. Please fill out this small survey. We thank you.

Please contact our Community Cat Coordinator at (734) 661-3523 or email

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All images and photographs are courtesy of HSHV staff and Jeffrey E. Roush of Two Cat Studios.