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New feral cat program in Layton: 'Trap/Neuter/Return'

Article Published 10/01/2014

Layton City Council approved to amend the Municipal Code (Ordinance 14-19) to enable a promising new community cat program – “Trap/Neuter/Return” – to function inside the city limits.

Trap/Neuter/Return (“TNR”) is a humane, non-lethal alternative to the trap-and-kill method of controlling cat populations. Healthy (or easily treatable) cats are trapped, brought to a shelter or clinic to be sterilized and vaccinated, and released back to the area they were found.  Cats are also ear tipped for future identification.

The Best Friends Animal Society will implement this community cat program at its cost and will work with Davis County Animal Care & Control to identify areas of high feral cat intake.

A "community cat" is a feral, (free-roaming cat) that is without visibly discernible, or microchip owner identification of any kind, and has been sterilized, vaccinated, and ear-tipped.

Sterilization naturally reduces nuisance behaviors.

Using the traditional old trap-kill programs causes a phenomenon wherein if a cat’s population is reduced, remaining cats will produce kittens at a higher rate to compensate.

Even if all of the cats are removed, the habitat can often attract new cats, drawing the community into a costly and endless cycle of trapping and killing.

Statistics show that Layton City had 1,132 feral cats referred to the Davis County Animal Shelter from April 19 of 2013 to April 19 of 2014.

In Utah, 52% of all cats that enter shelters are killed, as compared to 17% of dogs.

Davis County Animal Services’ return to owner rate was 47 percent for dogs and five percent for cats in 2013.

TNR reduces the size of the colony over time. For example, prior to 2010 in Salt Lake County:

-63% of cats coming into the Salt Lake County shelter were being killed and only 3-4% of cats were returned to owners.
-Today, after nearly four years of using TNR, the shelter has a 94% total live release rate; complaint calls for cats has declined; and the return to owner rate for cats has increased to 9%.

A successful TNR program must include a plan to address the legitimate nuisance complaints by community members. Best Friends staff canvases neighborhoods to explain the TNR program and offer resources.

TNR reduces shelter admissions and operating costs while increasing adoption rates.

There is no initial cost to be a part of the TNR program.

However, there will be more costs to the city if more cats are picked up inside the city limits. The City would be charged two times for the same cat being picked up. Once the same cat is picked up the third time it will be euthanized.

Ultimately, city costs will go down as less community cats are picked up and cat populations are under control.

For more information, go to:

-Davis County Animal Care can be reached at 801-444-2200, weekdays 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; or visit: