TNR Program

This program is for cats you cannot handle

TNR (Trap, Neuter, Return) is a spay/neuter program for wild community cats. Ideally, people interested in TNR provide some type of shelter for trapped cats, as well as food and water while they prepare for their appointment. Questions about TNR can be directed to shelter reception at (262) 677-4388 or email [email protected]


WCHS’s TNR program is currently free for Washington County and $45 for out of county.


Feral cats can be dropped off at the shelter:

  • Monday – between 8:00am – 7pm 
  • Tuesday – between 8am – 12pm


Feral cats can be picked up from the shelter:

  • Thursdays – between 8:00am – 5pm 
  • Fridays – between 8am – 5pm


All cats will receive:

  • Spay/Neuter
  • Rabies shot (if over 3 months of age and 3 pounds)
  • A left ear tip

General Information

Cats for this program are completely unable to be handled or are caretaker friendly. Caretaker friendly means that the cats only allow the person that regularly socializes and feeds them to be near or handle them.

By having a left ear tip, this identifies a free-roaming cat as altered which prevents the need for future transport, stress and anesthesia. Cats will recover at WCHS and are able to be picked up the day after surgery.

The cats should be returned to their established location, where you found them. The alternative – relocation – is a difficult, time-consuming and problematic procedure, and it is not recommended except under extreme circumstances. Relocating cats without the proper steps can endanger the cat’s life. They will try to return to their old home, and may become lost or attempt to cross major roads. Also, feral cats form strong bonds with other cats in their colonies. Separating a cat from their colony members and leaving them alone in a new environment will cause stress, depression and loneliness.

Sick Cats

Our goal is to insure that the cats brought to us are well suited for life as a free-roaming cat and have the health and capacity to live life without suffering in their colonies. If a cat arrives at WCHS sick, the caretaker will be charged a nominal fee for medications, or the caretaker may take the cat elsewhere for altering services/medications if they so choose. Sick cats will not be sterilized, and we may medicate their food in an attempt to improve their health. However, if our veterinarian believes that a cat is suffering, or determines that a cat is in very poor health, we may euthanize that cat.

Trapping Instructions

Feral cats, like all wild animals, will strike out when frightened and unable to run away. NEVER stick your hand or fingers inside the trap!

In order to trap effectively, you will need the following:

Withholding Food – You must withhold all food from the cats you intend to trap 24 hours before trapping. This will ensure that the cats are hungry enough to enter the traps. While this may be hard, particularly if the cats appear hungry, remember that you are doing what is best for them.

Preparing the trap – it is best to do this away from the trapping site. Place a small amount of bait along the back of the trap (in a lid or container). Set and cover the traps, and leave quietly. The cats are unlikely to enter the traps if you are standing nearby. Check the traps often.

After trapping, cover the entire trap before moving it which will help to keep the cats calm. It is normal for cats to thrash about inside the trap, and you may be tempted to release them. Even if a cat has already injured themselves, do not release them.

Most injuries from traps are very minor, such as a bruised nose, scratched paw pad, or bloody nose. The cat should calm down once the trap is covered.

Please DO NOT attempt to transfer the cat from a trap to another transport carrier.

Releasing the Cat Post-Surgery
Release the cat in the same place you trapped him or her. Open the front door of the trap and pull back the cover. If the trap has a rear door, pull the door up and off, remove the cover and walk away. Do not be concerned if the cat hesitates a few moments before leaving. They are simply reorienting themselves to their surroundings. It is also not uncommon for the cat to stay away for a few days after release.