Kirby has taken on a new approach to humanely and effectively dealing with feral cat overpopulation called TNR (Trap, Neuter, Return)
in which cats will be trapped, spayed or neutered, vaccinated and then
retuened to their original place of capture. While we understand that
not all of our citizens will agree on the best way to deal with stray
cats, as an agency, we also understand that we are dealing with an
overwhelming problem and that the traditional "band-aid" approach that
we have been taking of removing one or two cats here and there, simply
isn't working and we need to start thinking more in the long-term on
dealing with the cat overpopulation crisis. Please read the FAQ's below
to see how this new program will affect you and to find out ways you
can HELP solve the problem of unwanted cats here in Kirby.Q: Are my cats allowed to roam loose since all of these stray cats are allowed to run loose?
Yes. The TNR Ordinance that was recently passed did away with the
"leash law" for cats. Your cat may roam free outside AS LONG AS it is
spayed or neutered. Cats that are trapped that are NOT spayed or
neutered will automatically be considered a stray and will be considered
for the TNR program with no stray hold period. We strongly recommend
keeping tags on your cat's collar or having your cat microchipped (we
microchip cats for $10.00 at the shelter every day!!!) so that if it is
picked up in a trap, we can identify it and return it home to you
without running the risk of the cat getting lost or adopted out at the
shelter. Information that would be good to put on an ID tag or associate with a microchip is the cat's name, address, phone number and whether or not they are spayed or neutered.
Any cats that are trapped that can be immediately identified
as already spayed or neutered (either by ear-tipping or visible ID tags) will be immediately released back into the area that they were trapped from.
Cats with microchips alone may have to take short trip to the shelter so that we can scan them and verify altered status and contact the owner to let them know that their cat was trapped (we will bring the cat home once we are able to contact the owner and verify altered status).
If we trap a cat and cannot visually verify that it is spayed or neutered, the cat will be sent in to one of the spay/neuter clinics and may have to undergo exploratory surgery to verify their altered status (this happens most often with female cats, as it is more difficult to tell visually if a female is spayed than it is to tell if a male is neutered). If they prove to be unaltered, they will be spayed or neutered at this time and they will be ear-tipped. Cats that undergo exploratory surgery and prove to be already altered will also be ear-tipped so that we do not re-trap them and have to put them through additional unnecessary surgery. While we understand that you as a pet owner may not want your cat to be ear-tipped, please understand that we have a responsibility to ensure that every cat we trap is able to be identified as altered. You can prevent a situation like this by ensuring that your cat can be identified as spayed or neutered easily so that they are not trapped and taken into a spay/neuter clinic.
If you own an outdoor cat (male or female) that is not wearing a visible ID tag, is not ear-tipped or has a microchip that will help us identify the cat as spayed or neutered and owned, then your cat may be subject to impoundment for this program. A good way to help us identify whether or not your cat is already altered is to request that the veterinarian that performs their spay or neuter surgery tattoo the cat on the abdomen, a standard way to tell if an animal has been altered. Making sure that we can identify your cat as spayed or neutered (and owned) will help make sure your cat is not subjected to an unnecessary exploratory surgery and we can then re-release your cat without having to take them into the shelter for verification of altered status.Q: How do you know which cats have been spayed or neutered once they are released?
A: While under anesthesia to be spayed or neutered, these cats will have the tip of their left ear surgically removed by the veterinarian, a procedure called "ear-tipping". We will then be able to visually survey the cats in a colony and tell which cats are already spayed or neutered and which cats we still need to capture.Q: Will ALL cats be Trapped, Neutered and Returned?
No. Each cat that we deal with has different circumstances, so we will
always take those into account when deciding the best course of action
for that cat. Cats and kittens that are friendly or can be socialized
will be kept at the shelter and placed for adoption. Cats that are
un-healthy will be kept at the shelter and either treated for their
medical conditions and then evaluated for adoption or TNR or humanely
euthanized if they cannot be treated.Q: So...these cats will just be put back on the streets to fend for themselves once they are fixed??
Not exactly. These cats already naturally exist in a social structure
called a "colony". Because cats are social, they never live solitary
lives, so that one cat that you see on your street from time to time
actually already has a family unit. The goal of this program is to
identify the existing colonies around town and where their home-range
(area that they stay most of the time) is. From there, we can easily
determine which colony a trapped cat belongs to and make sure that that
cat is returned to its original colony after it is spayed, neutered and
vaccinated. A group of trained volunteers called
"caretakers" will be tasked with caring for and managing each
colony. Each caretaker will be responsible for maintaining records on
each cat in the colony, trapping new cats that enter the colony for spay
/ neuter, trapping kittens at a young enough age that they can be
brought ot the shelter for socialization and adoption, feeding the
colony every day and provding shelter for the colony cats. Q: What if cat in the TNR program bites someone?
Any time an animal bites that animal must be quarantined and observed
for symtoms of rabies, and we will follow the same procedure with the
community cats as we do with any other bite to ensure public health and
safety. The good news is that these cats will have a 3 year rabies
vaccination at the time that they are spayed or neutered. Having a
history of vaccination greatly decreases that cat's chance of being
infected with rabies virus, thus greatly diminishing the risk of a
public health problem. In a nutshell...without TNR, we would have
thousands of UN-VACCINATED cats running around our City, at risk for
rabies...with TNR we can reduce the risk of a rabies outbreak in the
free-roaming cat population by providing vaccinations at the time of
capture and spay/neuter while we work toward reducing the population. Q: What do I do if a cat that is part of the TNR program is causing a nuisance on my property?
All animals are subject to the animal nusiance laws set forth in
Kirby's City Ordinance. Call (210) 666-0954 to report nuisance animals
and we will follow up with any and all complaints made. In most cases,
we will work with the cat colony caretaker repsonsible for the nuisance
cat(s) to come up with a solution to the problem. The nature of this
program is to actually reduce problem behaviors in the first place.
Spaying female cats decreases their desire to roam, they do not go into
heat and vocalize, and they tend to be less aggressive. Neutering male
cats decreases their desire to roam, they do not fight with other males,
the scent that they leave behind from "spraying" or marking their territories is greatly diminished and they tend to be less
aggressive. Having caretakers for the colonies that provide food,
water and shelter decreases problem behavior such as rummaging through
trashcans looking for food sources and hunting of native wildlife as well, so we hope to actually receive LESS complaints about stray cats than we do now. This will also free our Animal Control Officers up to deal with dogs running loose (which can be a major public safety concern), animal cruelty cases and community outreach programs to make Kirby a better place for animals and people alike.Q: Why TNR rather than the traditional "catch and remove" approach??
A: Cats are territorial by nature and rarely allow new cats to enter their colonies. By catching and removing feral cats, we open up those territories for other cats to move in. Other cats will be attracted to the same territory for the same reasons that attracted the original cats (food supply, water supply, available shelter, etc). So in a sense, when we remove cats, we accomplish nothing. TNR allows us to solve the basic problem of cat overpopulation by starting at the source and stopping the breeding...from there we can remove cats that are sick, injured or that would make good candidates as pets from the equation as well. The average life span of a stray cat is 2-4 years, so if we can work together now to spay and neuter enough cats in the community to stop the cycle of new kittens, then in 3-5 years, we will see a dramatic drop in the overall stray cat population as these cats live out their natural lives and are not replaced ten-fold by their kittens. The traditional approach of catching and removing cats has not only proved to be a "bandaid" approach to a much larger problem, but has also unfortunately allowed the cat population to continue to grow. TNR is a more strategic approach that allows us to stabilize the cat population, and provides a more humane approach to dealing with these cats. It also allows us to ensure that the greater part of the stray cat population is vaccinated against diseases like rabies, which can be a major public health issue for people in our community AND because these cats will be cared for and spayed or neutered, many behavior problems such as territory marking (spraying), vocalizing, roaming and digging in trash cans for food will be eliminated or greatly reduced. Q: When will we see results from this program?
A: The goal is to start off by focusing most of our attention on the neighborhoods in Kirby with the largest number of stray cats for TNR first. We will then strategically branch out around the entire City to the areas with only a few stray cats and TNR those. Our goal for the first year of this program is to TNR 1200 to 1500 cats. If we can accomplish this goal, we expect to see a dramatic decline in the cat population within 3-5 years. 1200-1500 cats is just the initial "push" to get a handle on the cat population. This program will require ongoing maintenance to ensure that new cats entering the community are spayed or neutered as well, so that they don't contribute to the numbers of cats. Understand that this, like any program, is imperfect. There are no absolutes and we will never be able to, nor do we expect, to eradicate the stray cats. Our goal is to simply reduce
the numbers of stray cats in our community to a manageable number and keep it there. Q: How can I help with the TNR Program?
All volunteers must complete a TNR Class offered by the San Antonio
Feral Cat Coalition. These classes are held regularly in Kirby and are
FREE to the public. We ask that you complete this class so that you
have some training on how to help with TNR safely. Once you have taken
this class, we will be happy to have you on our team! We need volunteers in the following areas: trappers, transporters (to and from the spay / neuter clinics), post-op recovery and colony caretakers / feeders) You can email
the Kirby Animal Services Shelter for more information on this program, class schedules and other ways to help as well.