Trap Neuter and Return/Feral Cats
Livingston County, MichiganAnimal ShelterTrap Neuter and Return/Feral Cats
Livingston County
Animal Shelter

418 S. Highlander Way
Howell, MI 48843
Map to our location
Shelter and Administration Phone: 517.546.2154
Fax: 517.546.0232

Non-emergency Complaints - 517.546.9111
Emergencies - 911

Closed for Lunch weekdays: 1-1:30 pm

Animal Viewing Hours:
Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri
11 am-1 pm., 1:30-5 pm.
11 am-1 pm, 1:30-7 pm
10 am - 3 pm

All Other Business:
Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri:

8 am-1 pm, 1:30-5 pm
8 am-1 pm, 1:30-7 pm

Trap Neuter and Return/Feral Cats

Trap, Neuter and Return (TNR) is a humane alternative that helps manage and reduce the numbers of feral/wild cats.  LCAS offers free use of live traps (they require a $50 cash refundable deposit) and will spay and neuter these cats for you at an affordable price.  All TNR cats will receive an ear tip.  A notch is taken out of one ear tip while they are being spayed or neutered.  It doesn’t harm the cat and is much safer for the cat than being handled a second or third time to see if it is “fixed”.  An ear tip is a universal symbol and it lets a veterinarian or shelter know that there is no reason to handle the cat as it can’t reproduce.

Please make sure that the cats you want to TNR are not house pets.  Feral cats are wild animals like a raccoon or opossum – and they cannot be picked up or handled without being in danger of being bitten.  If the cats in question are friendly, and can be easily handled by humans, you can bring them to the shelter where they may be put up for adoption.

LCAS cannot take in feral/wild cats because they are not adoptable and they are dangerous to our staff.  Unfortunately, feral/wild cats that are surrendered to the shelter will be euthanized for a $20 fee. TNR offers another option to reduce the population of feral cats, while letting them live out their natural lifespan.

How TNR Works

Livingston County Animal Shelter does not have the resources to come out and trap cats for you, but you can rent the traps from us.

If the cats in question involve your neighbors, we recommend that you discuss TNR and its long term benefits before you begin.

TNR Process

We do TNR surgeries on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  You must call the shelter for an appointment.  You will want to trap the cat the night before or early in the morning and drop them off at the shelter in the morning before 9am. They will be spayed/neutered, ear-tipped and given a rabies vaccine. They can be picked up in the afternoon, before we close at 5 pm. It is best if you can hold them in a garage or barn for the evening to make sure they are alert before releasing them to their colony.  *TNR cats are required to arrive in a live trap.


The cost of TNR service is $25 per cat. The cost includes:

  • Spay/neuter
  • Rabies vaccine (cats can carry rabies!)
  • Ear-tipping (see image top, right) – this is REQUIRED

You do not need to be a low income household to qualify for this service.


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What’s the difference between a house cat, barn cat and a feral/wild cat?,


House cats are friendly, they can easily be picked up and cuddled and they generally enjoy human attention. Barn cats are typically friendly, but generally do not like to be handled and prefer to be outside.
A truly feral cat is a wild animal like a raccoon or opossum. You cannot pick up or handle these cats without the danger of getting bit. 
Livingston County Animal Control and Shelter cannot take in or adopt out feral/wild cats because they are not a family pet and they are dangerous to you and our staff. A cat bite can result to in an emergency room visit due to the nature of the bite.  Unfortunately, feral/wild cats that are surrendered to the shelter will be euthanized. However, there are humane options to consider, including our TNR (Trap, Neuter and Return) program. 
Here are some differences between feral and stray cats:
Feral Cat
Silent except mating calls and fights at night
Only seen at dawn and dusk to hunt
Will eat food only after humans have retreated a distance
Can never be touched or held
If cornered will hiss, spit and fight hard
Looks clean and healthy (feral cats are better a surviving in the wild)
May be intact or spayed/neutered and ear tipped as part of TNR
No collar or microchip
Stray Cat (displaced house cat)
Meows at you
Seen at all times of day and night
Will eat food with humans standing within six feet
May be touched, held, or approached within limitations
If cornered will try to hide, but will fight if pushed
Looks dirty and unwell
Intact or spayed/neutered
Might have collar and/or microchip
To determine if a cat is feral, stray, or just a visiting cat from the neighborhood, the cat should be monitored for a few days. Use the information above to determine if the animal is feral or stray (stray refers to homeless cats that are lost or abandoned pets and have not been born in the wild). If the cat is clean, healthy and friendly, it is likely a neighborhood cat just visiting. You can put a collar on the cat with a note asking the owners to notify you if this is their cat. This way an owned cat doesn't mistakenly get taken to a shelter.


I have a feral/wild cat living on my property, what should I do?,

First, please determine if the cat is actually feral. If the cat is friendly and you can pick it up and handle it, it is not feral and you can bring it into the shelter. Feral cats are wild, like a raccoon or opossum and you should never try to pick them up or handle them. Livingston County Animal Control and Shelter can’t take in or adopt out feral/wild cats because they are not adoptable and they are dangerous to our staff. 
There are humane options to manage feral/wild cats. The shelter offers a TNR program that can help you reduce the number of feral/wild cats on your property. The shelter rents out live traps for free (they do require a $50 refundable deposit) so you can trap feral/wild cats on your property. Bring the cat into the shelter (please call first!) and we will spay or neuter the cat and you can return it to your property to live, knowing that it won’t reproduce.

Have you seen cats with ears like this?

TNR Cat Example image

These cats have been "ear-tipped" or "notched".  This is a surgical alteration showing that a free-living cat has been spayed/neutered.  It's part of "TNR", which means "Trap", "Neuter", "Return".

These cats should never be re-trapped or brought to a shelter, unless sick.  Instead they should be left in their neighborhood to provide cat population control.  Studies have shown by just being there, they prevent other cats from moving into the area.  And, because they have been fixed, they will never have litters of kittens.

Even if you don't like cats, TNR ear-tipped cats have an important job to do in keeping your neighborhood a nice place to live.