Community cats are unowned cats who live outdoors. Community cats live outdoors in virtually every landscape on every continent where people live. Like indoor cats, they belong to the domestic cat species (Felis catus). However, community cats, also called feral or outdoor cats, are generally not socialized, or friendly, to people and can’t live indoors. They live full, healthy lives with their feline families, called colonies, in their outdoor homes.
Stray cats are socialized to people and can be adopted into homes, but feral cats are not socialized to people and are happy living outdoors.
Cats have always lived outdoors, so community cats are not a new phenomenon.
Domestic cats (Felis catus) came into existence about 10,000 years ago, when humans began farming. According to scientists, cats are one of the only animals who domesticated themselves. Evolutionary research shows that the natural habitat of cats is outdoors in close proximity to humans. In fact, it wasn’t until the 1940sand the invention of cat litterthat “indoors only” for cats was even a concept.
Trap-Neuter-Return is the humane, effective approach to addressing community cat populations. Through TNR cats are humanely trapped, spayed or neutered and vaccinated. The tip of one ear is painlessly removed to indicate the cats are part of a TNR program. They are then returned to their outdoor homes where they live and thrive, ending the cycle of producing new litters of kittens.
TNR is good public policy. It reduces animal shelter intake, “euthanasia” numbers and calls to animal control agencies, which saves tax dollars. Hundreds of communities have adopted official TNR ordinances and policies, and thousands more conduct grassroots, volunteer-led TNR programs. Those numbers continue to grow because the programs have proven successful in a wide variety of environments.
Leave kittens with their mom. She’s always their best caretaker! For more detailed information and scenarios where you might need to get involved (e.g. if the kittens no longer have a mother)
Relocation is a last resort. It’s a time-intensive process that is stressful for you and the cats and may not even be 100% effective.
MPORTANT: Even in the best case scenarios relocation can be very dangerous for cats and ineffective. Relocation is stressful for cats and since community cats are not socialized to people they can be unpredictable. Community cats bond to their outdoor homes and will try to go backin some cases cats have died in the process, when people misguidedly believe that their life will be better someplace else.
Relocation should only be considered as a last resort and Alley Cat Allies advises against relocating community cats in most circumstances.
You may be able to find low-cost spay and neuter, and community cat friendly full-service veterinarians near you
For financial resources to help you or your organization cover the cost of spay and neuter surgeries and other cat care needs, visit alleycat.org/Economy.You can also try these low-cost spay and neuter referral services:
If your cat is sick or injured, or if you come across a sick or injured cat outdoors, bring her to a veterinarian right away or call us at (863) CAT -LIFE
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