Community Cats

What are Community Cats?

Community cats are outdoor, unowned, free-roaming cats.  Community cats include adults and kittens alike, and their temperaments vary from friendly to feral.  These cats are accustomed to living outdoors and are naturally adept at finding shelter and food.  They are generally unsocialized to people; in fact, most would rather avoid contact with people.  This means that community cats are not considered a public threat, as the chance for them to transmit diseases is minimal.  The unsocialized nature of community cats also means that they are not candidates for adoption into homes.  Community cats thrive in the environments that they ave grown accustomed to.

What is T-N-R?

The main goal of T-N-R, or “trap neuter return” programs, is to stop community cats from reproducing, and in turn reducing their numbers over time.  TNR is a humane and effective method of managing community cats.  TNR involves humanely trapping community cats, spaying or neutering, and vaccinating the cats against rabies.  A community cat that has been altered and vaccinated will be ear-tipped before being released back into its originating colony.  TNR improves the lives of community cats, stops the breeding cycle, and addresses community concerns such as excessive noise, fighting, spraying, and kittens at large.

Catch-and-kill programs are inhumane and ineffective.  Removing cats from an environment creates a “vacuum effect” — new cats will simply move into the area to take advantage of the available resources.  The new cats will breed, the cat population will continue to grow, and along with it the fighting, noise, and spraying will continue.

How effective is TNR?

TNR programs have been shown to be effective in a variety of settings throughout the USA, including university campuses, an urban neighborhood, a private residential community, and a small town.  A recent report documented the success of a TNR program right in our backyard — the San Francisco Bay Trail.  Through TNR, placement of adoptable felines, and careful volunteer management of this colony, the initial population of 175 declined by 99.4%.  One cat remained at the end of the study period.  

Why is spaying and neutering important?

Spaying and neutering improves the overall health of community cats.  Spaying and neutering reduces the likelihood of certain cancers.  Spaying prevents female cats from going into heat, and in turn reduces the number of unneutered male cats to the area.  Neutering male cats reduces the instinct to fight, thereby reducing injuries and infections.  The most noticeable impact of spaying and neutering community cats is the reduction of the population over time.

“How can I help?”

Support of Local Animal Shelters for Draft “Free-Roaming Cat Management Policy”