PawsCo feral cat efforts help reduce overpopulation

By Alysse Forde, PawsCo Cat Team

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Armed with flashlights, tuna fish, traps, and a whole lot of passion, PawsCo volunteers set out to make a change in the feral cat population. Over a three-day effort in March, PawsCo trapped and neutered a total of thirteen cats in a Denver neighborhood riddled with feral cats. According to mathematicians, one cat and their offspring could produce between 100-400 cats by the end of seven years, meaning we prevented between 1,300 and 5,200 additional stray cats!

Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) programs have become the number one most humane and effective population control effort. TNR works by trapping feral cats within a community, neutering them, and then releasing them back into the community. On Friday, March 20 I was fortunate enough to channel my (often embarrassing) love for cats by participating in PawsCo’s largest TNR project to date.

The night started with preparation at a PawsCo volunteer’s garage. We prepared tiny cups of bait (tuna fish), lined the traps with newspapers, and prepared the garage for their keeping. Filled with excitement, we set out to the pre-scouted neighborhood and began our project. We started by setting up the traps in feline high-traffic areas with tuna fish as bait. Our locations involved alleyways, back porches, backyards, and near by parked cars (full disclosure: we had already discussed the project with neighbors earlier in the week so we were not assumed to be trespassers). After all the traps were set, we waited as the sun set and as the cats’ hunger lured them into the traps. While waiting, many laughs were shared among volunteers as hilarious conversations that only die-hard cat lovers can understand occurred. Not to embarrass ourselves further, but the quality of cat litter was discussed for at least five minutes. Once all our major cat stories were shared, we finally returned to the traps once again to find seven cats trapped! We left the remaining traps out overnight at a trusted neighbor’s backyard and returned the currently trapped cats to their home for the night, the garage.

The next morning, the total trapped cats tally rose to a total of 13. These cats were then transported to the Meow Mobile, a mobile neutering service offered by the Denver Dumb Friends League. There, they were spayed or neutered and had their ears clipped. Clipped ears is a universal sign that a cat is spayed or neutered and does not need to be trapped again. Afterwards, the cats were returned to the garage to heal and rest. The next day, the cats were released back at the location they were trapped. It is important to release a cat in the same area they were trapped, as cats are very territorial and will attempt to go back to their original home. If they are misplaced, they can be injured or die in their attempt to return.

The March TNR project is just the start of PawsCo’s mission to help Denver feral cat communities. These efforts, once multiplied, can truly make an impact in our neighborhoods. While PawsCo is well known for its goal-breaking adoption rate (750+ animals in the past 21 months!), TNR projects can prevent the necessity of these adoptions in the first place by reducing the stray and feral population. And isn’t that the dream?

For more information on the PawsCo cat team, or to inquire about TNR projects please contact

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