'Trap-Neuter-Release' feral cat program being put to work in Iowa City

IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - The city of Iowa City adopted a plan to help control the feral cat population in the city in August, and the city staff says it is already working, but the cold weather is slowing it down.

A cat waits for adoption at the Iowa City Animal Care and Adoption Center on May 8, 2019. (Aaron Scheinblum/KCRG)

The ordinance approved in August is called "Trap-Neuter-Release" or "Trap-Neuter-Return," more commonly referred to as TNR. Chris Whitmore, the Animal Control Coordinator for Iowa City's Animal Care and Adoption Center, said it took about a month for the program to gain some momentum.

Whitmore said in October, awareness, and people using the program was starting to pick up, saying about 15 cats were brought in throughout the month, and they were able to return those cats back to the outdoors. She says that's already made a difference for the better, considering prior to the ordinance, the animal care center had to euthanize the feral cat found.

Despite things starting to pick up, the cold weather means things might have to slow down- at least until it warms up again, according to Whitmore.

"Because you have to make sure that they're going to be warm before they're allowed to go back out, since they do have major surgery," Whitmore. "And so you've either got to have a place for them to hang out for a couple of days or just wait. And usually, we tell people, if it's not causing you a problem, just wait until it warms up and then we'll do a TNR for you."

Whitmore said if the temperature starts to turn around then they will start doing it again.

However, in some cases, if the cats are very docile, they will put it up for adoption. Whitmore said that serves as part of the reason why the Animal Care and Adoption Center has so many cats- even more than what is on display in the facility because there are even more cats in foster care waiting for the space to open up.

Whitmore said the Animal Care and Adoption Center is putting adoption fees on cats that are above the age of six months are half-off, bringing the adoption fees down to $25. Whitmore said it is their goal to help make room for more, and they will hold the sale through Saturday, November 30.