What we TRY to do with the American Cat Project, is fix cats (not shelter and adopt cats out). When I first started working with a national website that helped adoption groups, TNR was new. At that time, we did phone interviews of every new member. Every week a new TNR member would join, and inevitably they said "We were told that all we had to do was spay/neuter with TNR, but we've found we always have friendly cats or kittens that shouldn't be put back, who need homes, so we need to post them for adoption."
They were always a bit shell-shocked that TNR often meant becoming a small pseudo-shelter. Some groups were lucky enough to have good contacts with actual shelters, and could turn socialized kittens over to the shelter. But 15 years ago, many TNR projects were started because the local shelter was so overwhelmed they simply didn't have room.
(The change of TNR over the years is a topic for another post. Sentiment has very recently swung toward returning almost every healthy cat -- even friendly ones -- with "return to field" or "shelter/neuter/return." I don't agree with this practice except in large municipalities who are so swamped with cats they can't get ahead without this emergency practice --I would argue short-term for 10 years or less. But...didn't I say that was for another post?)
So what the traditional view of TNR often requires, to save on gas and time for all parties involved, iis "cat smuggling" in parking lots.
It's NOT cat smuggling, but it often feels that way, as you swap cats back and forth in carriers while nearby people look at you in curiosity. After an initial site visit, the caretaker and TNR group find a halfway point, meet in a parking lot, and the cats are transferred from car to car so one person isn't spending hours and gas on very long drives.
Most recently, my rendezvous point for a Chemung County colony has been Sportsman's Warehouse. It's clearly a building that's hard to miss, and the parking lot is a reasonable size so caretaker and rescuer can spot one another. Although this week the caretaker's truck was hidden behind a huge bank of plowed snow, so it took awhile for me to track him down.