Beltsville Community Cats (BCC) is completing its fourth year of using humane strategies to control and reduce the population of free-roaming community cats in the 20705 Zip Code area. This article explains our primary strategy, referred to as trap, neuter, vaccinate, and return (TNVR).
As BCC becomes aware of a community cat colony in Beltsville, a volunteer visits the site to get information on the number of cats being fed and who is feeding them, when and where they are being fed, and an estimate of the number that need to be spayed/neutered. The volunteer then secures a signed “Permission to Enter Property” form from the colony caregiver, homeowner, or business representative (for colonies on commercial or industrial properties).
A trapping plan is developed based on the availability of spay/neuter appointments. Trapped cats are taken to a vet or a clinic to be neutered, dewormed, vaccinated for rabies and FVRCP, and ear tipped. The left ear is tipped to provide visible evidence that the cat has been fixed.
On the day before the vet appointments a trapper or trapping team is deployed to the colony site to set and monitor traps. Cats that are trapped are recorded (color, breed, signs of illness, location where trapped, etc.) and transported to a volunteer’s house to be held overnight and taken to the vet the next day. Following the surgery, the cats are transported back to the volunteer’s house to be monitored while they recover from the surgery and anesthesia. This is important because cats cannot control their body temperatures while under the effects of the anesthesia. The next day the cats are released back where they were trapped.
The cooperation of colony caretakers is critical to the ongoing maintenance of a colony and to BCC’s success in trapping the cats. Caregivers can help by withhold food the day before and the day of the trapping event. This ensures the cats are hungry enough to go into the traps. Sometimes BCC volunteers hard-set the traps (i.e., both ends are secured to stay open) and ask the caregiver to feed inside the traps for 2-3 days prior to the trapping event. The cats get comfortable going in and out of the traps, making it easy to trap them when the trap is set.
BCC’s TNVR program has been successful in trapping and altering over 1,165 cats since we began operating in March 2019. About half of those cats were released back to the place where they were trapped. The remaining cats were young kittens or friendly adult cats that BCC rescued, placed in foster care, and adopted out into “furr-ever” homes.
If you know of a community cat colony in Beltsville that is in need of TNVR, please contact BCC at 240-444-8353 or email@example.com. To learn more about BCC, visit www.beltsvillecats.net. If you are interested in volunteering for BCC, visit our Rescue or Volunteer pages.