Trap, Neuter, and Release programs help reduce feral cat populations

Whether you love or hate cats, there is no question that feral feline populations should be kept under control.

Feral cats can create a variety of problems relating to the health and safety of the animals and humans. Advantages of limiting the number of feral cats include a population that does not increase, reduced danger to humans, fewer cat fights, and better health of the cats.

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“Trap, Neuter and Release is the safest and most economical method to deal with the situation for the community and the cats,” said Stephanie Baum, president of the Gettysburg nonprofit Forever Love Rescue.

Baum said many cat lovers feed feral cats, but they can quickly become overwhelmed financially and emotionally with the increasing number of felines to care for.

“An outdoor female cat will have three to four litters each year. In each litter she will give birth to four to six kittens,” said Baum. “That could be twenty-four kittens a year from one mom.” “Kittens can get pregnant at four months, so by the time the mom cat is on her third litter of the year, her babies are already getting pregnant themselves.”

Baum said research from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), showed feral cats have a life expectancy of only two years compared to indoor cats that can live up to sixteen years.

Baum said she has been participating in TN&R since 2015. “Typically, we try to treat fifteen to twenty cats every two weeks,” said Baum. Baum focuses on the program in Gettysburg but has colleagues who work in other parts of Adams Vounty as well as in Franklin and Cumberland counties.

Baum said right now is the perfect time to get feral cats some help, and urges anyone who knows of a cat who needs treatment to reach out to her via email at If the cat is in Gettysburg  the treatment will be free, thanks to contributions to the program from the borough. “Reaching out is the only way to ensure these cats are healthy and safe,” said Baum.

The TN&R program begins when a resident reports a problem. The cat is first trapped, usually by the person who reported the needy feline. The cat is then transported to Baum’s facility where the team cares for the animal before surgery.

In addition to neutering, each cat is given a rabies vaccine, flea and tick treatments, and any other additional medicine needed for the cat to live a fulfilled and healthy life. “Whatever we can do in the time they are at the clinic, we get done,” Baum says. 

Each cat’s left ear is clipped during the procedure to show it has been neutered.

After surgery the cat is monitored until it is safe for release. Females may stay up to three days while healthy males are normally released the day after surgery.

“We bring the cats back to where they came from to create a healthy group of cats that live in the environment,” said Baum. “The animals are now free to live a healthier life.”

Baum said some of the cats in the program become eligible for adoption rather than release. “If we get a super friendly cat we figure out if we have room at the shelter for them. Then if the caretaker thinks it’s a good idea, we try to take in the cat.”

Gettysburg’s cats are treated at Nobody’s Cats Foundation just outside of Camp Hill, and the cost is normally $40 each.

Alternatives to catch and release include “catch and remove” where trapped animals are moved to new homes in other areas and “catch and kill” in which the cats are euthanized. But Baum said there is not enough space or resources to care for all of the cats that would be removed and killing them is inhumane.

Baum recalled a favorite memory surrounding the program, when a caretaker reached out months later saying “These cats are happier, healthier, and friendlier than they have ever been. Before, I had a bunch of feral cats that I just took care of. Now I have pets.”

If you would like to help, Baum and her colleagues are always in need of monetary donations, food, litter, treats, toys, and puppy pads.

Sophia is a rising junior at Gettysburg College and is originally from New York City. She is an English and Business double major and in her free time enjoys writing and going to museums.

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Debra Wilson
Debra Wilson
1 year ago

Sounds like a great program do they have this in Franklin County in the Waynesboro area

Susan Cipperly
Susan Cipperly
1 year ago

Good summary of the program. I hope Gettysburg residents will contact Stephanie Baum for treatment of cats they may be feeding, or know of.

Susan Cipperly
Susan Cipperly
1 year ago
Reply to  Susan Cipperly

PS The free program is only within the actual borough of Gettysburg, not the entire zip code. The Borough put money in their budget to help solve the feral cat problem.

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