Working Together Workshop – Further Information

Part of Ireland's TNR Manual

How to Help Community Cats

Our Working Together workshop, like all our workshops, is packed with information - but there's more! Here's some links to further information on the topics raised. And do feel free to *share* any information and get people Talking TNR!

Working with animals is the easy part. Working with humans – hard work!


We discussed several tools to think about before communicating - and a fair few to use during any interaction.

Understand & Care For Yourself

Before you do anything else, you have to understand yourself and where you stand in any communication. You also have to be kind to yourself!

Animal Welfare or Animal Rights?

Compassion Fatigue

Caring too much can hurt. When caregivers focus on others without practicing self-care, destructive behaviours can surface. Apathy, isolation, bottled up emotions and substance abuse head a long list of symptoms associated with the secondary traumatic stress disorder now labelled: Compassion Fatigue


Body Language

Body Language includes, for example, Facial Expression, Eyes, Postures, Gestures.

Guidelines Only

Remember that body language varies between individuals due to a large number of things including personal experience, culture and upbringing and can't be universally applied. And don't forget your own background and state of mind will affect how you interpret body language. Context is everything.

Read Body Language

Reading others' body language allows us to guess how they're reacting to us - and respond accordingly.

Articulate Body Language

Sometimes articulating the body language we're interpreting can help maintain honest interactions and generate open discussion, eg. if we think someone is unconvinced we can confront them (gently) and ask why - then work on the issue that's not working for them.

Use Body Language

We can use our own body language to help us in our communications. Remember to relax before, during and after communication and maintain a reasonable level of eye contact.

  • An assertive communication style is usually the most useful, but others can have merits in different situations and some people respond better to different styles - see Five Communication Styles
  • Mirroring - verbal and non-verbal mirroring can be effective

Verbal Communication & Effective Interaction


  • Loaded language can be useful
  • I can't find any nice, simple online text on this. Contact Us if you find one we can use!!! Basically - Language shapes & reflects our thinking (Burr, 1995); Discourse & practice are intertwined (Schillo, 2003);  Social construction of animals influences their treatment. The bottom line: use words that work for animals: 'companion animal', not 'pet'; 'community cats', not 'ferals'; 'guardian', not 'owner'; 'killing', not 'euthanasia' etc.
    • Euthanasia: Also called mercy killing. The act of putting to death painlessly or allowing to die, as by withholding extreme Medical measures, a person or animal suffering from an incurable, esp. a painful, disease or condition. Killing a healthy animal is not ‘euthanasia’, it is ‘killing’. Note: this differentiation is more useful to no-kill and low-kill groups than kill groups.


A picture paints a thousand words.

  • Use lots of images to tell your story and use effective imagery wherever possible. Simple pyramids, such as this, work much better than ones that show a 9 year extrapolation. People can get their heads round 36 kittens 14 months later, where a gazillion kittens 9 years later is as good as meaningless.
  • Take photos of everything you do and post them on social media and your web pages.

Barriers to Communication

Couple of great articles:

Don’t ASS U ME

Assuming makes an ASS of U and Me

Don't make assumptions about the individual, their mood, the context, meeting or anything else before you engage in communication - your assumptions will have an effect. Be as open minded as you can be.

Working Together

Taking all the above into consideration, there are different issues to keep in mind when working with specific groups and individuals.

Working With Anyone

  • Basically: Take a Deep Breath, Be Nice, Understand Their Point of View, Be Nice, Think Before You Speak, Be Nice, Speak clearly and confidently
  • Above all - you guessed it - Be Nice

Animal Welfare Individuals & Groups

Be Nice to:

  • Your Organisation
  • Other TNR & Welfare Groups
  • Dog Wardens
  • Garda Síochána

You're not going to agree on everything - but good relationships with everyone in animal welfare means you can do more for the animals - which is what it's all about. And don't forget to network - Share, Publicise, Social Events. It's Better Together.

Lots of information on Helping Cats & People Coexist here.

Veterinary Staff

Be Nice to your vet staff - and especially so to your potential vet staff. We can't do TNR without them.

TNR groups and individuals need to make sure their vet staff understand the veterinary issues specific to TNR & feral cats: Handling Feral Cats, Surgery, Eartipping and Health & Welfare. They also need to be clear with vet staff about their policies regarding treatement, euthansia and killing. And good relations with vets ensure reduced fees for welfare work, and opportunities to introduce subsidised neutering schemes.

The Public

Be Nice. Srsly.

Information on Community Relations here.

Always Be Safe

Don't take risks with your own, or others', personal safety in interactions. Go with your instincts, trust your natural warning system and leave any situation immediately if you are at all worried that you are at risk.

Prevention Better Than Cure

Just like neutering the first stray that turns up is better than neutering a colony that results from not neutering, sucking it up is miles easier in the long run than mending a fall out that happens because you lost your temper.


  • Stick to the Point
  • Act as if …
  • Ask, Don’t Tell

The End Does Not Justify the Means


Lots of information on Working with Caregivers here.

Everyone Else

We also work with The Media, Funders, Legislators. Be Nice.

Resolving Conflict

Social Media

And There's More!

  • Further Reading - I'd expect anyone attending the training session to be interested in most of the list!

Useful Organisations

Read More

Part of Ireland's TNR Manual

How to Help Community Cats