Part of Ireland's TNR Manual
How to Help Community Cats
Adapted for Ireland from Alley Cat Allies.
Targetted Trapping is a term for the most efficient and effective effort to help the most cats in the shortest amount of time trapping. Targetted Trapping means aiming to trap every cat in a colony or specific area for Trap Neuter Return (TNR) and then expanding to surrounding colonies. Targetted Trapping is a strategic, smart approach because it produces measurable results, and maximizes your resources and staff/volunteer time.
How to Help More Cats and Organize Your Efforts
Whether you are a seasoned community-cat caregiver or a local rescue, you've discovered that Trap Neuter Return (TNR) is an effective and humane approach to helping outdoor cats. You've TNRed several felines and can already see the benefits for both the happier, healthier cats, and their human caregivers. But, although TNR has certainly helped the individual cats you've neutered - that alone won't solve the overpopulation problem. Targetted Trapping will.
Targetted trapping, also known as blanket neutering, involves TNRing an entire area - be it a single colony on a farm or estate, an entire village, a townland, your county - or Ireland as a whole! If you think about it, as long as felines remain unneutered, they'll continue to produce offspring and contribute to overpopulation. And, as we've already highlighted, one cat and her kittens can produce a colony of thirty felines in one year. So, to address overpopulation, we have to blanket TNR the country - a rather large task.
But large tasks can be achieved in small steps. And initiating targetted trapping in particular areas are those small steps. The first target could be a local colony, the next the surrounding townland. Tomorrow the world!
Our experience has shown that volunteers and TNR groups need to take full advantage of their limited time and money. And targetted trapping fulfils that need and expands your efforts - it provides an opportunity for local caregivers or groups to help even more cats and specifically, an entire colony, in a single effort and usually in a shorter period of time.
Furthermore, documenting the help you've given the cats can feed into the growing body of research that already shows that TNR is the humane method of addressing the overpopulation problem. Keeping medical records on each cat is essential. As is logging how much time and money you and/or your group have spent on particular colonies. And your actions to help cats provides services currently not easily available from mainstream Irish animal welfare - though we hope to change that!
Your documented actions and medical records present persuasive hard data that your measures are life-saving. And, if the need should arise, you will be organised and more prepared to defend the cats and your Good Samaritan efforts.
What is Targetted Trapping?
Targetted trapping is a method of TNRing an entire colony at a time before moving on to the next surrounding colonies in a specific geographic location. Newcomers entering completed colonies are immediately TNRed.
Conducting Trap Neuter Return indiscriminately by spaying and neutering only a few cats in a colony and then moving on to another colony has limited effects. It certainly helps those individual cats, but does not address the overall goal of helping all of the identified members of a colony and preventing new litters of kittens in that colony. Cats who are not trapped and vetted will continue to breed and exhibit behaviours such as yowling, spraying and roaming for mates.
Targetted trapping brings about total positive results. When caregivers employ targetted trapping, they work 'smarter, not harder'. This focused process improves the lives of all cats in the colony and could be the solution to the feline overpopulation problem in Ireland.
How to Target Trap
There are two main ways to identify an area and carry out targetted trapping - bottom up and top down. There's not a great deal of difference between the two methods beyond the initial method of deciding the area you'll focus on. Both require planning, paperwork, people skills and follow up. Both methods combined would allow you to target trap an entire county - or, hopefully one day, the whole of Ireland.
Top down is most appropriate when you're considering a small area, like a village or estate. Top down starts at the top - decide the village you'd like to focus on and raise awareness in that area about TNR, neutering and overpopulation. Gather information on the cats in the area and support for your project through door-to-door leafletting and surveys. TNR all the colonies in the village using high volume spay/neuter clinics in a planned time frame. Find out the details of Top Down Targetted Trapping here.
Bottom up is the most appropriate method when you're considering a large area for TNR, perhaps a whole county. Bottom up simply means starting at the bottom - encouraging cat carers to get in touch in your chosen area and mapping the 'hot spot's that are feral cat heavy. After analysing all the data you acquire, you identify the most efficient place to start and TNR one location at a time, until your entire target area has been TNRed. Alley Cat Allies have an excellent guide on Bottom Up Targetted Trapping - find out more on their pages. Basically, your target location is decided by the feedback you get from caregivers in the area.
Examples of Targetted Trapping
Irish examples to come ...