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Trap Neuter Return

Trap - Neuter - Return

Animal Mission provides vouchers for free and reduced price TNR surgeries for anyone working to manage the free-roaming cat population in Richland County. Vouchers may be picked up from City of Columbia Animal Services, located at 127 Humane Lane, Columbia SC 29209. The office is open Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 5pm and Saturday 9:00am to 4:00pm. If you’re a regular trapper or rescue organization and not yet part of our network, please send us an email to introduce yourself and let us know what we can do to help support your work!

What is TNR?

Trap-Neuter-Return is the most humane and effective method for managing the feral or stray cat population. Once humanely trapped by community volunteers and brought to a veterinary clinic or shelter, cats are spayed or neutered, vaccinated for rabies where appropriate, and ear tipped for identification. After surgical recovery, the cats are returned to their original territory. When foster or permanent homes are available, young kittens and friendly adults are removed and placed for adoption. This approach has the potential to greatly reduce the size of the feral cat population over time, reduce nuisance behavior, and improve the overall health of the animals, while continuing the positive effects of a healthy feral cat population, such as rodent control.

My residence or business has a feral cat colony – can you help?

Generally, there are two options for handling TNR for colonies located inside Richland County:

  • Hire a local trapper or rescue group to conduct the TNR for you. They typically charge between $15-$25 per cat for their services, and Animal Mission covers the cost of the surgery, vaccinations, and eartipping through our voucher program. If you would like to be connected to our network of local trappers and make a request for assistance, please email with details about your colony and needs.
  • Learn how to do the TNR work yourself—it’s not as hard as you think, but there are a few things you need to know. We have lots of helpful resources we can share that will walk you though the process. The cost of the surgery will still be covered though our voucher program. We can even help arrange for you to borrow traps, or show you where to purchase your own. Best of all, once you’ve learned all the skills required for TNR, you can help teach others how to do it too!

If the cat or colony you’re attempting to TNR is located outside of Richland County, we can still assist you with contacting trappers who work in your area, however our voucher program will not be able to cover the surgery at this time, and additional costs may apply.

Where can I take cats for surgery using the TNR vouchers?

One cat per person per day; appointment needed for two or more. Voucher will cover $32 of their $50 charge per cat for Richland County cats (special assistance may be available for Lexington County cats; inquire at communitycat@pawmettolifeline.orga>).

  • Pawmetto Lifeline - One cat per person per day; appointment needed for two or more. Voucher will cover $32 of their $50 charge per cat (financial assistance may be available for Lexington County residents. Contact PLL for more info)
  • Humane Society – One cat per person per day; appointment needed for two or more. Voucher will cover full cost of surgery.
  • Other vets and clinics – please contact them directly for their policies and rates. Voucher will cover $32 of their charge.

Do they have to be returned to the area where they were trapped? Can’t they go somewhere else after surgery?

No, and that can actually make the issue worse. Catch and kill/relocate approaches often create a ‘vacuum effect’ allowing new cats to move into the area to take advantage of the newly available resources. Breeding can increase, and the colony will grow, creating an endless cycle of trapping and killing/relocating. The more humane alternative of TNR allows the cats to live out their lives, and over time the colony will decline and disappear naturally.

Trap Neuter Return

If you’re interested in learning how to become a community cat trapper, we highly recommend these resources to get you started:

Traps are available at Tractor Supply, Harbor Freight, and Amazon.

Here are some articles we recommend:

Doing Right By Community Cats (Best Friends Animal Society)
“Cat lovers want to do the right thing when they see an outdoor kitty. Knowing what the right thing is, however, can be challenging. Should they trap the cat for spay/neuter? Knock on doors in the neighborhood and post flyers to see if he belongs to someone? Or just assume he’s someone’s cat and leave him be?...”

How You Can Help Community Cats: A Step By Step Guide to TNR (Alley Cat Allies)
“This guide teaches you how to help cats effectively and humanely. You’ve come to the right place. Alley Cat Allies is the global engine of change for cats.…”


Thank you for joining the community of individuals and groups who work to control the free-roaming cat population and improve their lives through TNR. Your support of our TNR voucher program ensures that these volunteers will always have access to free spay/neuter/vaccinations for the cats they trap.

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Trap Neuter Return

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