TNR In Seattle

This is a brief summary of how to do Trap-Neuter-Release (TNR) in Seattle with the help of Alley Cat Project.  There are plenty of resources on how to TNR in general, this is specifically how to use the Seattle resources and how to work with us.


  1. Get cats accustomed to eating food in traps
  2. Trap cats the evening before clinic
  3. Take cats to clinic
  4. Pick cats up from clinic
  5. Hold for recovery
  6. Return to site

1. Get cats accustomed to eating food in traps

Borrow some traps from us or the shelter.  Put them where you have been feeding cats or where you expect that cat will come eat.  Tie them open so that cats can enter and exit.  Put good, smelly food in the traps.  Fished based cat food is good, human tuna is very good.  Sometimes covering the traps with a towel may help, sometimes not.  I like to line the bottom with cardboard.

Let cats get used to eating food in traps.

2. Trap cats the evening before clinic

Identify a clinic day when you can trap the night before, transport to and from clinic, and hold cats for 1 or 2 days post clinic.

Withhold food the day of trapping so that cats will be hungry.

In the evening (or at a time that works for you) arm the traps.  When a cat is caught remove the trap to a securing holding location.

It is easiest to keep cats in the traps.  If you have a large number of cats we may help you transfer cats from traps to carriers.  This is a tricky operation and it is all to easy to let cats escape.  Best done with two people, one who has experience with the transfer.

Please hold cats in a dry and protected location.  If there is a concrete floor be sure to elevate them from it.  We use ensolite pads (closed cell foam), wood blocks, or a table.  Cover the traps with towels.  If it is cold double up with a blanket to help them stay warm.

Label each cat.  Label the carrier they are in with tape and use this same label for the cat’s clinic paperwork.  We use the system of naming each site and labeling each cat with the “sitename-#” such as “Linda-1”, “Linda-2”, etc.

If you have time you may evaluate each cat for socialization to people.  We can discuss this with you.

3. Take cats to clinic

There are two options for cats and reasons to use each.  Both will alter feral cats for free, provided you are willing to have them “ear tipped”.  This means that the top of one ear is clipped off so that the cat can be identified as having been altered.  (No ear tip implies the cat is a companion pet and they will then charge you to have it altered.)

We usually pay for extras:  FVRCP vaccination, flea treatment, and microchip placement (we supply the microchip).  Extras commonly cost $15 to $20.

Seattle Animal Shelter (SAS) Clinic

SAS operates Monday-Friday.  This is a good option for 2-3 cats.  They are not able to take many more.  Mondays are their busiest day and least preferred for walk in feral cats.  We use an e-mail list to coordinate taking cats to SAS.

Dropoff time is 7:30 to 9:00am.  On drop off you fill out a form for each cat and pay for services.  The SAS clinic has a store of Alley Cat Project microchips.  Identify that you are working with Alley Cat Project and that request they place our chips.

Pick up time is between 3:00 and 5:00.

Feral Cat Spey Neuter Clinic

FCSNC operates about 5 clinics a week.  Check their calendar for clinic dates to plan trapping.

FCSNC’s mission is to alter feral cats.  They are understand that trappers often don’t know when they will catch cats and can often take up to 8 with out reservations.  If it is a big site and we want to try to catch more than 8 it is best to plan in advance and make reservations for an estimated number of cats.

The clinic has very specific procedures which help streamline their process and which allow them to do surgeries for very low cost.  You can, and should, read about their procedures.  Following is how we have learned to use their services.

The clinic opens at 7:00am.  We like to arrive at 6:40 to be near the first in line.  When the clinic opens they put out a signup sheet.  Everyone there signs up, usually trying to do so in the order we actually arrived at clinic.  They also put out medical forms, though we download them and fill them out the night before.

Staff calls people one at a time.  When called bring all your cats into clinic.  They will guide you through check in.  To use the clinic you need

  1. One Surgical Release
  2. For each cat one medical form
  3. For each cat clean towel in a plastic bag
  4. For each cat:  microchip

Pick up time is given according to check in sequence and ranges from noon to 3pm.

4. Pick up cats from clinic

Pick up cats from clinic and transport them to a secure place.  They will still experiencing effects of anesthesia and should be kept warm and confined until evening.  We give them food with extra water mixed in right in their carrier.

5. Hold for recovery

There are a variety of ways to do this.  The easiest will be to keep them in their carriers.  Change the towels twice a day (we will demonstrate the procedure) and feed wet cat food with extra water added (we usually feed twice a day).

6. Return to site

Return to site.  Mostly it does not matter what time of day.  Release them near their customary locations.  Commonly they return to their normal routines within 12 hours.

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