Part of Ireland's TNR Manual
How to Help Community Cats
You've targeted a village, island or townland in your area. How do you go about TNRing all the cats in the area while ensuring everyone is happy with what you are doing?
First off you need to advertise TNR and your project in such a way as to enthuse the general public, rather than alienate them. Keep in mind you're not 'telling' them what you want them to do, you're providing them with a solution to problems they may have had with feral and stray cats, and to the feline overpopulation problem as a whole. You want to advertise carrots, not sticks!
In your advertising include information on feline overpopulation, feral cats, TNR, eartipping and targeted trapping - feel free to use any information on our site to help you. Specific advertising could include:
- Notices in the local papers.
- Local radio announcements.
- Postering – two or three posters. One to introduce what you're doing (download our introductory TNR Poster here); one after the conclusion of project saying thanks and how successful it was; optionally you could have one in the middle of the project updating the populace on how everything's going. Posters would have to warn people with companion animals to ensure they wear collars so you don't trap already neutered companions – or to keep their cat in on specific days.
- Information leaflets:
- TNR - Feral Cats Ireland have excellent leaflets on TNR. While funding is available, these leaflets are free to TNR groups for distribution.
- Neutering - A general leaflet on neutering and it's benefits for domestic animals can be very useful for awareness raising - remember you'll be coming across people with unneutered companion animals - you'll need to persuade them to neuter if you want your targeted trapping to have a long-term effect.
- Your project - You need some kind of promotional literature about your project - a leaflet, A4 or A5 double-sided page, it doesn't matter.
- Host a workshop and/or presentation on TNR (see more below).
- Plaques - how about some permanent advertising once the project's complete? Design a plaque advertising the village as Feral Cat Friendly, with information on TNR, your project and funders.
Door to Door Survey
Survey the cats in the area through door to door research. You can precede this with leaflets through everyone's door - so they might have some idea of what you're up to when you turn up. The idea of the door to door is to get descriptions, numbers and locations of cats in the area. But always be open to recruiting volunteers while you're at it. Late afternoon/early evening is a good time to catch people home from work, before they're sitting down to their dinner.
At the same time use the opportunity to encourage people to neuter their companion animals, if they haven't already. And use the opportunity to advertise your presentations and events.
Depending on the size of the village, it might be worth doing two presentations - a concise, snappy, information-rich one to publicise your project and raise awareness, with a follow-up workshop a week or so later giving more detailed info on how-to-TNR to recruit volunteers to help you.
It can be a good idea to organise an event at the local pub or hotel to draw people in for the first presentation – something like a quiz night or a music night. Choose something that would attract a cross-section of the village. Draw them in with your event and start with a small intro about TNR and your project. Have a donations box, your leaflets and other publicity material freely available, and bring traps and equipment with you in case anyone's interested in the mechanics of TNR. Make it clear you'll be hosting a further workshop for anyone interested in participating in the project. During the event itself, mingle and talk to people - do a bit of research - ask about cats in the area, find out opinions, who might be resistant to your project, etc.
Your second workshop will be aimed at recruiting volunteers - trappers, fundraisers, fosterers, etc. If you can get a free room and an overhead projector from the local hotel, so much the better. This workshop should last about an hour if you include everything about TNR and your project. And leave time for questions and mingling afterwards.
Have contact sheets at both events to get names and contact details of people who might be able to help you.
You'll be passing round a bucket for donations at your presentations and events and encouraging donations when you're going door to door. And you should be approaching local businesses and cat caregivers for funds too. If some of the local businesses are slow to donate money or are in financial straights then they can be encouraged to donate prize's towards a raffle instead. Keep in mind, you're helping the village out with a feral cat problem - the village should be willing to fund your effort. But that won't always be the case.
Find out other sources of funding on our Fundraising pages.
You need to arrange caregivers at all sites feeding cats regularly at specific times for at least three weeks prior to trapping. So you need to have set up your publicity well before the date you intend to start trapping.
Your neutering schedule will be limited by what your vet can handle and your equipment. If you can organise a vet for one or two high volume spay/neuter clinics, so much the better.
All cats must be health checked, eartipped, treated for parasites, treated for any apparent ailments or injuries and spayed/neutered. You'll need somewhere to hold them for recovery before releasing them. For specifics on these kind of details see our TNR Manual.
Thanks & Initial Follow up
You'll need some kind of 'thank you' and information provision to the town after your TNR project is complete. You can do this through the local papers, radio, posters and/or another presentation.
You'll need caregivers to continually monitor colonies and say when new cats (without eartip) turn up so you can neuter them. And keep in mind there will be ongoing costs involved as a result.
You could also arrange attractive cat cafés and shelters to highlight the work that's been done.
Collection boxes in two or three locations in the village would hopefully cover ongoing costs (ie. new cats turning up and needing neutered).
Regularly check in with caregivers, unless they're fantastic at keeping in touch, so you catch newcomers and hear of problems/praise in the long term.
A food box in the local supermarket would help to cover ongoing costs of feeding the colonies.
Six Month and/or Annual Review
You'll need to return to village at some point to do a follow up cat survey to see how successful you've been. Get feedback from locals, count cats, note new arrivals not neutered, etc.
You'll need to discuss how to handle companion animals that are not stray. They would need to be neutered too for the TNR to be long-term effective.