If TNR Works, Why So Many Cats?
This is a very common question, especially during kitten season, with so many answers. Many people are under the misconception that TNR is an immediate "fix" to the community cat problem. For success to be seen, the program takes time, effort and funding. There is plenty of evidence to support the fact that TNR works in reducing the population, but it must be properly implemented and carried out. There is a wealth of information, webinars, how-to videos, pamphlets, books and even mentor programs on how to spay & neuter a colony, but very little support for sustainabilty. The average program support is 3 years and depends heavily on volunteers, and these are the 2 main reasons why the program is set up for failure from the beginning. Unless your city has outlawed TNR and views it as a crime, then there is no reason to believe it won't be a success in your area when given the proper tools.
Unfortunately, there is still a stigma attached to colony cats and this translates to very little public support. The average person will donate to help social cats, but not the spay or neuter of ferals. Another problem to overcome is that caretakers will feed a colony, but don't have the training or resources to spay & neuter all of them so they only do 1 or 2 at a time. This effort is comparable to having 15 holes in a dam and only 10 fingers; the colony size will never reduce and kittens will continue to spring up. For success to be achieved and a colony to be non-productive, all the cats need to be fixed at the same time.
To tackle the overpopulation problem, we need to train and support a working city-wide TNR program. Much is directed towards adoptions, but spay & neuter efforts target the root of the problem and insure fewer cats and kittens are entering the shelter system, thereby reducing the number of felines needing homes.
Colony maintenance is an integral part of the success also. Training caretakers to properly maintain a colony; look for sick cats, trap new comers, keep records, etc is also a very important part of guaranteeing the success of the program and a healthy cat population.
So, while you may not believe TNR works, it's much more effective than trap & kill. If this option worked, cats would be extinct by now.