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Application of a Protocol Based on Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) to Manage Unowned Urban Cats on an Australian University Campus


Application of a Protocol Based on Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) to Manage Unowned Urban Cats on an Australian University Campus

Helen Swarbrick et al. Animals (Basel).


In August 2008, the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney, Australia, commenced a trap-neuter-return (TNR) program to manage the population of approximately 69 free-roaming unowned urban cats on its Kensington campus. The goals of the program included an ongoing audit of cats on campus, stabilization of cat numbers through TNR, and a subsequent reduction in cat numbers over time while maintaining the health of remaining campus cats. Continuation of the TNR program over nine years resulted in a current population, as of September 2017, of 15 cats, all desexed (78% reduction). Regular monitoring of the cats through a daily feeding program identified a further 34 cats that immigrated on to campus since initiation of the program; these comprised 28 adult cats (16 unsocialized, 12 socialized) and six solitary kittens. In addition, 19 kittens were born on campus, 14 of which were born to immigrant pregnant females. Unsocialized adult immigrants were absorbed into the resident campus population. Where possible, socialized adult immigrants, solitary kittens, and campus-born kittens were removed from campus through rehoming. Overall, reasons for reductions in the cat population (original residents, immigrants, campus-born kittens; n = 122) included rehoming or return to owner (30%), death/euthanasia (30%) and disappearance (29%). This successful animal management program received some initial funding from the university to support desexing, but was subsequently funded through donations, and continues with the university's approval and support.

Keywords: TNR; cat management; trap-neuter-return; unowned urban cat.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


Figure 1
Figure 1
Resident campus male and female cats (including 69 original cats and 16 unsocialized immigrants) at commencement of the program (August 2008) and at annual intervals from end of September 2008 to end of September 2017.
Figure 2
Figure 2
Percentage of resident cats (including 69 originals and 16 unsocialized immigrants) desexed versus entire (undesexed) at annual intervals during the nine-year program—(A) female; (B) male. Cats of unknown status (n = 4) were not included.
Figure 3
Figure 3
Fates of resident cats (69 original and 16 unsocialized immigrant cats).
Figure 4
Figure 4
Fates of socialized immigrant adult cats (n = 12), solitary kittens (n = 6) and kittens born on campus (n = 19).

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