The City of Oklahoma City offers a Trap Neuter Release (TNR) program for feral cats, known as the Community Cat Program. When an OKC resident brings a free roaming cat to the Oklahoma City Animal Shelter, the cat will automatically be spayed or neutered, ear tipped, vaccinated for rabies and returned to where it was trapped or captured. There is no cost to the resident for this program which helps manage free-roaming cat populations without harming them and can eventually lead to a humane end to a cat overpopulation situation in local neighborhoods. Oklahoma City Animal Welfare encourages the public to take part in this program.
Cats can be brought to the OKC Animal Shelter at 2811 SE 29th St. seven days a week from 9-5:30 for no charge for any OKC metro area resident.
The public may make an appointment with the OK Humane Spay & Neuter Clinic by calling (405) 947-7729. There will be a $30 fee per cat for any OKC or OK resident who is trapping feral or free-roaming cats for TNR at the clinic. Upon confirmation of appointment, community cats can be taken directly to the Spay + Neuter Clinic at 5835 S Pennsylvania Avenue on the Tuesday or Thursday appointment.
How the Program Works
At the OKC Shelter:
- OKC citizens can take cat to the OKC shelter (2811 SE 29th) seven days a week between 9 – 5:30 PM. Identify it as a “Community Cat”
- The shelter will transfer the cat to their cage and return the trap/carrier to you.
- The shelter will transport your cat to the clinic where it is spayed/neutered, vaccinated, and the left ear is “tipped” for identification.
- After overnight recovery from surgery, the cat will be returned to where it was trapped and released so it can continue to live as a community cat.
- A door hanger will be left on your door, so you know it has been returned and that food should once again be provided.
At the OK Humane Spay + Neuter Clinic:
- The clinic schedules appointments for feral cats on Tuesdays and Thursdays only. Appointments must be made. There will be a $30 fee per cat for any resident who is trapping feral or free-roaming cats for TNR at the clinic.
- On the day of your appointment, take your cat directly to the clinic (5835 S Pennsylvania Ave.) at the scheduled time.
- Complete the paperwork and identify the cat as a Community Cat
- Leave the cat in the trap/carrier at the clinic
- Pick up cat SAME day (usually after 4:30 PM)
- Keep your cat in the trap or carrier overnight, making sure to provide it with food and water, then release it the next day.
- The clinic will also loan you traps for a $25 fee if they are available. Call: (405) 947-7729 for more info.
WHY Trap, Neuter, Return?
OKC Animal Welfare recognizes that free-roaming cats are in our community. Currently, there are no ordinances that cover keeping a cat indoors. OKC AWD officers only pick up stray cats that are ill, injured, involved in a cruelty case, or have bitten someone. Nuisance issues caused by outdoor cats require a community response. That is why OKC Animal Welfare offers TNR through the Community Cat Program.
TNR helps control population growth, but also helps to stop undesirable (“nuisance”) behaviors such as loud mating, fighting and spraying.
TNR is the only long-term solution for controlling the overpopulation of free-roaming cats. Attempted eradication of the cats, by starvation or by “catch & kill”, will simply backfire. Studies show that removing feral cats from an environment creates a “vacuum effect.” The area where the cats were removed will quickly fill with new cats taking advantage of whatever meager food source is available (i.e., leftover food in dumpsters, small rodents and insects, etc.) These new and unsterilized cats will quickly reproduce to the capacity of the site and the cycle of breeding will continue.
Cats that have been sterilized are ear tipped (one centimeter is removed from the tip of the left ear) to identify cats that are sterilized.
Some people cite diseases, such as toxoplasmosis, as serious health concerns caused by feral cats and thus the reasoning behind their needed elimination. However, humans only contract toxoplasmosis when they ingest feline fecal matter, not through direct contact with cats. Ingesting undercooked meat products are a more common cause of this disease.
All cats that are part of a TNR colony or a community cat program are vaccinated for rabies as part of the program.
Cities that have implemented feral cat programs have reported a substantial drop in all animal control-related problems, especially in the area of citizen complaints about free-roaming cats. Most of the objectionable behavior such as yowling, fighting, soiling, and wandering is solved by sterilization.
Trap and kill methods are not only ineffective but also unpopular with the general public. It has been shown that most people prefer a humane and compassionate alternative, especially one that is successful and cost-effective. Oklahoma City is fortunate to have caring individuals who are willing to help with such a plan.
The Community Cat Program is available for any free-roaming cat that is feral (wild) or a stray that is not tame. They live in alleyways, parking lots, vacant lots, backyards and lots of other places. Prior to the community cat program, cats were euthanized when they were taken to the OKC Animal Shelter. Now they will instead be spayed/neutered, vaccinated, ear-tipped and returned to the area they came from in an effort to control the overpopulation of cats in the community.
- It costs OKC taxpayers less to fix and return thousands of cats rather than euthanize them.
- The population will be controlled with no new litters of kittens.
- Annoying behaviors like yowling, fighting and marking territory will stop or decrease dramatically.
- The cats are vaccinated against diseases.
Points to Consider when using the Community Cat Program
- DO NOT trap kittens under three months old. Kittens under 3 months of age are too young to spay/neuter and will likely not make it out of the shelter alive due to space and foster limitations.
- DO NOT trap nursing mother cats until kittens are eating on their own (3 months old). Kittens should not be left unattended and mothers released the next day may not be able to find them.
- Trapped declawed cats will not be returned. They cannot defend themselves outside. Every effort will be made to place them in adoption or with rescue if they are social and there is room.
- Cats DO NOT have to be in a live trap to participate in this program. If you can get them into a carrier or crate if that is easier, then do it. The important thing is to get them in for sterilization.
- Establish a feeding schedule so they appear at set times of the day to eat
- Withhold food for 12 – 24 hours before trapping so the cats are hungry enough to overcome their fear of the trap to go after your bait
- DO NOT set traps and leave them unsupervised. As soon as the trap is sprung, cover with a sheet or blanket to calm the cat and ready it for transport
- DO NOT leave set traps overnight – you might catch skunks, raccoons and other wildlife.
- DO NOT TRAP WITHOUT A PLAN for transport. If you can’t drop cats off right away, DO NOT let them out of the trap – they will be fine in the trap for a couple of hours or even overnight if necessary.
- Secure BOTH ends of the trap after you catch the cat with zip ties or carbineers to prevent escape.
- Do not set traps on uneven ground or in direct hot sunlight.
- Suggested bait: canned cat food, tuna or sardines in oil, fried chicken, hot dogs
For more tips on basic trapping: www.neighborhoodcats.org/how-to-tnr/trapping/trapping-the-basics