TNR is humane way to control stray populations

By David Higgins

Stray cats are not a problem once they are neutered.

Stray cats are not a problem once they are neutered.

If you have strolled along the Sunabe seawall, undoubtedly you’ve noticed a stray cat or more accurately, at least ten, roaming in and around the seawall tetra pods or lazing about on the grass.

stray IMG_0206Stray cats love to do the nasty and are known for their ability to reproduce at exponential rates, and it seems that the seawall has become the perfect place for our fresh feline friends to make romance. To give you an idea of how quickly a pair of ‘unaltered’ stray cats can become a problem consider that a pair of cats producing a litter of three offspring per year who will also have three kittens per year results in 2,073,514 cats in eight years. That’s a serious population increase.

Crossing paths with these hapless felines, you may be overcome by a wave of concern, followed by an urgent desire to find suitable homes for all of these delightful mousers. Knowing that a domesticated cat can be an excellent companion, you envision nothing less than a win-win situation for all parties.

stray IMG_0205On Okinawa, a group of concerned advocates has a better solution. For years they have been diligently working to eradicate the stray cat problem using ‘TNR’ techniques which is an acronym for ‘Trap – Neuter – Return.’ The practice of spaying or neutering your pet is an integral part of responsible pet ownership. To curb the stray overpopulation problem, many countries around the world have adapted the TNR practice alongside advocacy for spaying and neutering pets upon purchase with resounding success rates.

What many pet owners may not realize is that when a once beloved companion is left behind, the pets’ life has been diminished to ‘vermin’ status. Unfortunately, there are also many Okinawans who refuse to take responsibility for their pets to the detriment of the quality of life for their pets and fellow residents. This has resulted in routine round ups of feral cats who then usually meet their end as a part of a mass execution in a gas chamber.

stray IMG_0204A principal group ‘on the ground’ for the trap and neutering efforts is the Oki TNR. The focus of the groups’ efforts has been to manage and protect the feral cat colonies through TNR practices. Members of OKI TNR collaborate to spay and neuter stray cats and dogs, and to find homes for those who are adoptable. The work is accomplished with their personal funds and any donations that they can raise.

OKI TNR does not take in animals from the public; rather they work to save those, which are already strays. The group members have volunteered and organized TNR events around Okinawa to include cats at Uken Beach, Araha Beach, Comprehensive Park, Sunabe, Ginowan, and in their own neighborhoods.

To amplify the program, Iris D&C Clinic has recently started a full-time spay and neuter program as well as making the operation much more affordable. To spay or neuter a cat now costs about ¥5000. The clinic specializes in spaying and neutering homeless dogs and cats. Cats’ ears are ‘tipped’ to indicate that they have been fixed.

Ultimately, we would like to see each Okinawan community involved in sponsoring and advocating for TNR events. As foreigners, let’s make our impact positive by taking responsibility for the animals we love and care for and spaying or neutering and even better, supporting the local TNR and rescue campaigns so that we can improve the quality of life for the human and animal citizens of our beloved island home.

If you are interested in helping or donating to the Oki TNR group please contact Jamie Miller by email:

09:04 30 May , 2024