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Managing community cats

Tools, training and information to help reduce cat populations, improve welfare, further public health and safety, reduce nuisances and mitigate the real impact of cats on wildlife

“Community cats” is the catch-all term the animal welfare community uses for those feral and stray cats living outdoors in our communities. These cats are generally considered unowned or to have a loose affiliation with one or more people who care for them -- approximately 10% of the American public feed outdoor cats who they don’t consider their own pets. It is unclear how many community cats exist in the U.S., but we estimate there may be 30 – 40 million of them.

Managing community cats is a complex issue that concerns many local leaders and agencies mandated to serve and protect the public, ensure the welfare of cats and equip municipal shelters and animal control agencies with effective, humane tools. In order to successfully address this number of cats, a variety of strategies need to be employed, including trap-neuter-return (TNR), return-to-field, spay-neuter programs for owned cats and efforts to mitigate conflicts with wildlife and their advocates.

With innovation, collaboration and determination, we can make a difference.

  • Managing Community Cats: A Guide for Municipal Leaders: Focused on what local leaders want and need to know, this guide offers an in-depth look at community cat management programs and addresses proactive approaches and collaborative efforts in local communities to humanely reduce the unowned cat population.
  • Return-to-Field Handbook: A practical guide to help shelter staff develop the processes and protocols needed to provide positive outcomes for healthy stray cats, the handbook includes detailed chapters on everything from how to gather important information at intake to managing returns and everything in between.
  • Resolving cat-wildlife conflict: Whether you are trying to prevent cats and wildlife from sharing a feeding station or looking for ways to build a consensus among cat advocates and conservationists, this collection of resources can help set you on the right path.
  • Scientific Studies and Data on Community Cats: We’ve summarized key studies and recent research that shows the impact of humane community cat management and the value of TNR and RTF as tools to help us reach our goals.
  • Supporting Community Cats Webinar Series: This series of webinars will take you from a community cat novice to expert, offering tips, tricks, and strategies to help you boost effectiveness.  Everything from targeted TNR to colony care to grassroots mobilization is covered, to help you best address the needs of the community cats in your neighborhood and beyond.
  • Trap-Neuter-Return: How to Manage a Community Cat Colony, Online Course: Brought to you by experts from Neighborhood Cats and The Humane Society of the United States, this self-paced course is geared towards caregivers and folks new to the world of humane cat management. Through our multimedia platform, you can transform your knowledge of TNR from zero to hero at your own pace an in your own home! 
  • Cats and public health: Learn the real scoop on zoonotic diseases that cats can transfer to people, and why public health departments across the country and supporting and engaging in the conversation on trap-neuter-return programs.
  • Animal Sheltering magazine articles on community cats, trap-neuter-return and return-to-field.