This is Cole, a cat my neighbor and I trapped. We didn't notice at the time, but she already had an ear tip indicating she'd been spayed. Even in this picture, her ears look perfect. She was either a stray or feral - definitely fearful of people, but my neighbor socialized her and now Cole is living the life of luxury.
With kitten season already in full swing, volunteers are needed for Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR). Cats are trapped, taken to a local veterinarian or the ASPCA for vaccinations and neutering, then returned to the area where they were trapped. If you have feral/stray cats in your neighborhood who are not ear tipped (indicating they have already been neutered), consider getting involved as these programs rely on local volunteers.
TNR programs are beneficial to neighbors and cats in so many ways. The biggest benefit is controlling the feral cat population. Cats are amazing reproducers. Females can typically get pregnant beginning at 6 months old and can have 2 or 3 litters annually, approximately 8 to 12 kittens per year. One litter of kittens can have multiple fathers. Unlike humans, there is no menopause for cats. Females can continue to get pregnant throughout their lifetime if unspayed. Other TNR benefits include reduced noise from the howling associated with mating and less unpleasant smells as spraying is reduced. Neutering and vaccination help cats lead a healthier lifestyle. There is also reduced stress, fighting, and roaming for these outdoor cats.
Want to learn more? Visit websites for Neighborhood Cats or the NYC Feral Cat initiative for lots of TNR information and to sign up for a local class.