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Cat's Nose


About Community Cats & Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR)

Tens of thousands of stray and feral cats, collectively called community cats, live in the outdoor spaces of New York City. They live in groups called colonies, and they establish themselves near human activity — in backyards, around businesses, in parking lots, etc. — attracted by a food source such as trash or rodents. Community cats have no owners, though many people care for them by feeding and sometimes providing outdoor shelter.

Feral cats are not socialized to humans. They are timid and fearful around people and are not suited for adoption. Stray cats are lost or abandoned pets who may become feral or may be suitable for rescue and re-homing. Left unfixed, all of these community cats will breed prolifically. Because most of these cats are not suited to living indoors, bringing them to a shelter is not the humane answer. Taking them to a shelter also doesn’t solve the population problem — if cats are simply removed from an area, others will soon move in and breed. This is called the “Vacuum Effect.”

The most humane and effective approach to managing the growing population of community cats is Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR). In TNR, entire colonies of community cats are trapped, sterilized, vaccinated, eartipped, and returned to their territory of origin. TNR halts reproduction and many of the nuisance behaviors associated with unneutered cats, such as yowling, fighting, and marking territory. The cats are healthier, free from the stresses of mating and motherhood. TNR also includes colony management to ensure the cats’ well-being and their peaceful coexistence with the rest of the community.

Community cat overpopulation in NYC is too big a job for any single agency to handle. The NYC Feral Cat Initiative (NYCFCI) urges community cat caretakers to make sure their own colonies undergo TNR. In doing so, they become part of the shared solution to cat overpopulation.




Becoming TNR Certified allows you to take control of the cat population within your community. Below are some links to help you get started! 




Ear-tipping involves surgically removing a small portion of one of a cat’s ears while the cat is under anesthesia for spay or neuter surgery. It is the universally accepted way to signify that a community cat has been spayed or neutered, which means no new kittens will be born, and that’s a good thing.

The ear-tipping procedure is generally done as part of a trap-neuter-return (TNR) program, which involves humanely trapping community cats, vaccinating them, getting them spayed or neutered, and then returning them to their neighborhoods to live out their lives. TNR is the best way to humanely reduce the population of outdoor, owner-less cats.


If you’ve spent any time around community cats, you know that getting close to one may not be an easy task. In general, these aren’t family pets. These are cats who were abandoned by their people, who got lost and ended up living on their own, or who were born on the streets. They are lovable in their own way, but they are usually not cuddly types.

There are kind people around the country who keep an eye on community cat colonies in their neighborhoods, helping to get the cats fixed through TNR programs. Ear-tipping allows them to tell from a distance whether or not a community cat has been spayed or neutered. That tipped ear saves the cat the stress of being trapped and anesthetized a second time.

Ear-tipping can also help anyone who is feeding the cats keep track of them, and notice if a new cat has joined the gang. And it lets animal control officers know that a cat benefited from TNR and has been seen by a veterinarian.


Ear-tipping is extremely safe and is performed while the cat is already anesthetized for spay or neuter surgery. There is little or no bleeding involved, and it is not painful to the cat. The ear heals up quickly and the tipped ear doesn’t detract one bit from the appearance or beauty of the cat.

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