PetRescue’s vision is a future where no healthy or treatable pets entering Australia’s pounds and shelters are killed due to homelessness. A future where all pets are treated humanely and with respect.
That’s why the development of a TNR (trap-neuter-return) program by the Campus Cat Coalition at the University of New South Wales piqued our interest. Not only is the program hugely successful, but it also demonstrates how similar programs can act in ethical and responsible ways.
What does TNR mean?
TNR is a way of responsibly managing a population of free-roaming cats through trapping, desexing and returning the animals to their colonies. Other practices such as regular feeding, registration, microchipping, adoption, and vaccination are often also used in this management approach.
TNR programs exist so that euthanasia is not the first option available to organisations - they are an effective way of managing cat populations without the need to euthanise perfectly healthy and happy cats.
TNR success in NSW
In 2008, at the University of New South Wales, there were over 80 free-roaming cats living on campus
To reduce and control their numbers, a staff member of the university, Dr Helen Swarbrick, worked to implement an effective TNR program, together with a group of volunteers called the Campus Cat Coalition.
Over the course of the first year-long trial, the campus cats were audited, registered, desexed and vaccinated to improve their overall health. The program volunteers also ensured that the cats were kept healthy by introducing daily feeding, shelter areas, and flea and worm medicine.
Most importantly, some of the tamer cats and kittens that lived on campus were put up for adoption and loving forever homes were found for them.
Whilst some cats have been euthanased due to poor health and illness since the program commenced in 2008, the success of the program is a great demonstration of how euthanasia doesn’t have to be the first and only option considered by pounds and shelters.
The Campus Cat Coalition’s program is still running today and the team has been actively educating and informing other university communities about its success.
The UNSW TNR program now manages a stable population of 30 cats, over 90% of which are desexed. All campus cats are in good health and fed on a daily basis.