Community cats are free-roaming, outdoor, unowned cats. These cats may be feral, abandoned or lost. Generally, they are not socialized—or friendly—towards people. Some are wild and have been born into their colony from a stray mom. Others have been lost or abandoned from a home and generally are a little tamer. These cats can live full, healthy lives with their cat families (also known as colonies) in their outdoor environment. Some of these colonies are fortunate enough to have a caregiver who regularly drops off food, clean water, and shelter supplies.
Trap-Neuter-Return is the only effective approach to controlling communitycat populations. The process reduces new litters and stabilizes the size of the cat colony. Specifically, in a Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program, community cats are humanely trapped and brought to a veterinarian to be spayed/neutered, vaccinated, and ear-tipped (the universal sign that a cat has been part of a TNR program) and then returned to their outdoor environment. TNR helps community cats by relieving them of the stresses of mating and breeding, protecting them from diseases, lessening their interest in fighting and marking territories, and becoming quieter and better smelling to the neighborhood. Relocating or the outmoded strategy of “catch-and-kill” doesn’t work with these cats. Because of the Vacuum Effect, new cats will simply move in to the territory and begin reproducing. Much better to have sterile, vaccinated cats in the colony!
C.A.R.E. sponsors the work of several TNR programs in Colorado, Kansas and Oklahoma. These organizations strive to alleviate the suffering of feral cats by improving their lives with sterilization. Some programs try to identify the tamer cats during the TNR process and find them barn homes or families. It is usually easiest to transition a community cat when it is extremely young. C.A.R.E. often helps with the expense of traps and food for the caregivers.
Communities benefit from TNR because it reduces and stabilizes community cat populations, saves tax-payers’ dollars, helps shelters focus on adoptions (rather than euthanasia of these homeless cats), and provides a humane and collaborative way to address concerns with the ecosystem and coexisting with these cats that live nearby.
Here is a list of some of the groups we support in Colorado: Snip & Tip Cat Project (Gunnison), JJ’s Helping Paws (Freemont County), Metro Denver C.A.T. (Cats Around Town), Longmont Friends of Feral & Abandoned Cats, and The Feline Fix (Denver). In Kansas, we are supporters of the Topeka Community Cat Fix, and in Tulsa, T-Town TNR. In Nebraska, we fund the programs of Alliance Spay & Neuter Network.