Community Cat Programs involve trap, neuter and return (TNR) and cat diversion.
Trap-Neuter-Return, or TNR, is the most humane and effective method known for managing free-living cats in urban areas. In TNR programs, cats are trapped, desexed, vaccinated and then returned to their outdoor homes. Caretakers provide food and shelter and monitor the cats. When foster or permanent homes are available, young kittens and friendly adults are removed and placed for adoption.
In many municipal animal facilities and shelters, healthy stray cats that are poorly socialised to people are euthanased, and others are euthanased because there are simply insufficient available homes for cats.
Cat diversion programs, also known as return to field (RTF) and shelter-neuter and return (SNR) are where healthy stray cats that are brought to shelters, but are unlikely to be adopted, are desexed and returned to their home location where they were found. These cats are healthy, and are getting food and shelter from people who may, or may not, consider themselves owners.
Cat diversion programs save many cat lives. They also save human lives, because there is a significant human cost to killing. Up to 50% of shelter workers directly involved with euthanasia develop health problems including post-traumatic stress leading to depression, substance abuse, high blood pressure, and tragically in some cases, suicide. In USA, the animal rescue sector now has a suicide rate equal to the most traumatising professions – firefighters and police.