TUCSON, AZ – The Humane Society of Southern Arizona’s Trap Neuter Return program is dedicated to reducing feral cat overpopulation and improving quality of life for community cats.
Feral cats are frequently the forgotten animals. Feral cats are not homeless or abandoned domestic cats - they are community cats who are born outdoors and live without any substantial human contact. They are afraid of people; you can’t hold them or pet them, and they must be caught using a humane trap. Most wildlife organizations do not work with feral cats because they are considered to be a domestic pet. On the other hand, animal shelters find them difficult to manage in a shelter to adopt environment. HSSA is making a difference in the life of community cats through a Trap-Neuter-Return Program.
Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) is the humane trapping of feral cats to be spayed or neutered, vaccinated and medically treated by veterinarians. Once treatment is complete adult feral cats are returned to their residence. If kittens are young enough, they can be taken off the streets and placed into a foster or adoption program, decreasing the number of cats living on the streets. Research has shown that TNR helps to gradually reduce feral cat colony size over time and helps feral cats to live healthier lives. As a result, TNR helps feral cats be better neighbors to the humans around them and ensures these cats are vaccinated helps community cats against diseases that are a public health concern, such as Rabies.
Bringing cats in to HSSA’s TNR program takes a lot of patience and dedication. Clara Lee Arnold, HSSA’s TNR Specialist, works odd hours often over the weekend and late in the afternoon. Some days she finds herself hanging out by smelly garbage cans. Other days she crawls into places that leave her covered in dirt and grease. Along the way Clara Lee has met amazing partners, like Pima Paws for Life, AWASA and Spay and Neuter Solutions, who team up to make a bigger impact.
“Throughout my career, I have always loved working with these “forgotten”animals. And it brings me joy to see how many feral cat colony caretakers look out for the cats in their colony, and how important those cats are to them, no matter how wild. The TNR program at HSSA allows these cats an opportunity at a healthier and happier life, and brings help and assurance to the people that try to aid them,” says Clara Lee Arnold, HSSA’s TNR Specialist.
“Clara Lee has been instrumental in helping HSSA perform outreach to underserved areas and folks in need of TNR. Her skill, knowledge and experience have been vital to the increase in numbers of feral cats the HSSA Clinic have been able to help," says Dr. Kathryn Halstead, HSSA Veterinarian, Clinic Medical Director and Lead Spay Neuter Surgeon.