Free-Roaming Felines: Not So Funny Meow, Is It?

There isn’t really anything funny about community cats, but I just couldn’t resist a Super Troopers reference in a blog entry about cats!

Community cats are also sometimes called feral cats or colony cats – they’re essentially cats who live outside, are unsocialized, and fearful of human interaction. Unfortunately, most feral cats are not considered adoptable and will never be able to live inside. They’re also often considered to be a nuisance – they can spray and mark territory, fight, and have noisy mating encounters.

Historically, the solution has been to trap these cats and euthanize them, but many animal welfare groups are moving away from this method because it is inhumane and ineffective. Community cats typically reside in a location because there is a food source and some kind of shelter. Even if you remove the cats and euthanize them, the food source and shelter remain for new cats to move in. Those cats reproduce and it turns out you haven’t really done anything to reduce the number of feral cats.

Many animal groups, including Best Friends, have moved toward a Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) method. TNR involves catching cats in humane traps, neutering and vaccinating them, and returning them to the community where they were trapped. While under anesthesia, the cats are also ear-tipped as a way to mark them and prevent future trappings. TNR helps to stabilize the cat colonies because it prevents future reproduction, reduces the nuisance behaviors, decreases the number of cats euthanized in shelters, and improves their overall health.

TNR is now being practiced in hundreds of communities and it has proven to be a more effective – and humane – method of controlling cat overpopulation.

Alley Cat Allies is a partner of Best Friends and a great resource for more information on community cats and TNR.

These cats are definitely not feral and are up for adoption at Best Friends!


Black Jack


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One Response to Free-Roaming Felines: Not So Funny Meow, Is It?

  1. Melissa Feldman says:

    Thanks for this post Jessie. My mother used to manage a feral cat colony in the indoor/outdoor secluded basement section of a parking garage near a Whole Foods when she lived in Philadelphia. She did this for about 15 years and it was interesting because there were never any kittens of course–she saw to that–but there were never more than 3-5 cats living there at any one time. The population was very steady over all those years and many cats were part of this community for several years as well. She would often go to visit them and find that someone else, whom she never met, had already given them food, water or changed their bedding in their little cat house. It wasn’t a perfect life–but then who has that?–but it was a good life for what it was.

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