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TNR: Caring for Community Cats

It is estimated that there are 400,000 stray and feral cats in Philadelphia. Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) creates a healthier environment for these community cats — and for residents.

The term “community cats” refers to undomesticated, feral, or friendly strays. With committed caregivers, many community cats live happy and healthy lives outdoors. Trap-neuter-return (TNR) is the practice of humanely trapping community cats, bringing them to a veterinarian to be spayed/neutered, vaccinated, and ear-tipped (the universal sign that a community cat has been fixed and vaccinated), and then returned to their outdoor home/colony.

TNR is widely recognized as the most effective and compassionate way to manage community cat populations. It protects their health and wellbeing and decreases nuisance behaviors. Of course, preventing the birth of stray and unwanted litters also reduces the homeless pet population, which is vital to our goal of making Philadelphia a no-kill city.

Supporting Community Cat Caregivers

Join us in providing care!


PAWS provides free or subsidized spay/neuter surgery and vaccinations for community cats at our two Spay/Neuter and Wellness Clinics, in Grays Ferry and Northeast Philadelphia. In 2023, we treated nearly 2,500 outdoor cats by partnering with hundreds of trappers and community cat caretakers across Philadelphia.

JUNE 27, 9AM UPDATE: Our group of Anonymous TNR matching donors have up the ante! Now all gifts up to $25,000 will be triple matched. This means we have the opportunity to raise up to $75,000 for our 2024 TNR Voucher Program, ensuring over 2,000 community cats will receive free services this year!

For the second year in a row, a group of anonymous donors has generously committed to matching all donations to the TNR Triple Matching Challenge up to $20,000! 

TNR Two Day Takeover! From Wednesday, June 26 – Thursday, June 27, 2024, all gifts will go three times as far to keep community cats healthy and safe.

Donate $35 = TNR for 3 cats!
Donate $70 = TNR for 6 cats!
Donate $140 = TNR for 12 cats!
Donate $350 = TNR for 30 cats!
Donate $525 = TNR for 45 cats!
Donate $1,050 = TNR for 90 cats!
Donate $2,500 = TNR for 214 cats!
Donate $5,000 = TNR for 428 cats!

Make a donation to support TNR

TNR benefits cats and neighborhoods!

Before TNR, many thought the best way to address feral or community cats was to remove them from the area. These cats would be taken to already-crowded shelters, where their personalities prevented them from being adopted, and they would be euthanized. This “catch and kill” approach is not just inhumane, it is ineffective. Removing community cats from an area creates a vacuum effect, where new cats move in to take advantage of available resources. Then, they breed and the population grows all over again.

On the other hand, spaying and neutering through TNR reduces the outdoor cat population over time by preventing future litters, and offers many other advantages as well:

  • There is a decrease in unwanted mating behaviors such as roaming, yowling, spraying, and fighting.
  • Cats are vaccinated for rabies and other communicable diseases.
  • Without the stresses of mating and pregnancy, cats’ physical health improves.
  • Cat colonies provide natural rodent control for the neighborhood.

Need help getting an outdoor cat fixed?

Contact PAWS!


TNR at PAWS is offered by appointment. If you have a community cat who needs to be spayed or neutered, please contact the clinic closest to you.

Cats must arrive in a trap for their surgery appointment at PAWS. If you do not have your own humane cat trap, you can rent one through Catadelphia.

If you’re new to caring for community cats, ACCT Philly (the city’s animal control shelter) has more helpful information on how to get started here.

Alley Cat Allies is another rescue group who has helpful information. 

Community cat caregivers share the impact

Lauren K. says...


Working with PAWS to control and hopefully reduce the number of cats on the street and in the greater community through TNR, foster, and adoption has been so helpful in getting a handle on things. Any time I see a new cat, a cat without an ear tip or an intact male, I contact PAWS right away to get a TNR spot. They are usually quite prompt at responding and getting me an appointment!

Anita L. says...


We have only TNR’d one stray so far but it was amazing to be able to schedule a surgery so quickly and for such an affordable price! TNR being available and affordable is the best way to ensure people can help their outdoor cat population!

Christine R. says...


Subsidized TNR is truly a blessing, there is no other way to describe it. It is literally invaluable. There are so many places across the country that do not have access to free TNR, and I count myself as being incredibly lucky to be able to partake in this program. For people who volunteer, foster, and engage in rescue efforts, free TNR makes it possible for us to help even more cats without costing us even more money than we already spend.