Outdoor Cat FAQs

What is a “community cat” & why shouldn’t I pick up cats that I see outside? 

Community cats can be found just about everywhere that people live. These outdoor, free-roaming cats live in and are cared for by the community, hence the term “community cats.” For decades, community cats have been trapped and removed in a failed attempt at population management. In addition, using this approach, shelters have struggled to keep up with the number of cats coming in. Because shelters are not able to handle this level of feline intake, cats now account for roughly two of every three animals dying in U.S. shelters.

community cat

There are two types of cats you may see outside: community cats & owned, outside cats. Community cats who appear healthy have successfully made their home outdoors; where you see them is likely close to their food, water & shelter sources, so moving them is taking them from their home. For an owned, outside cat, they are likely very close to their home.  Furthermore, if you see kittens, the mother is most likely nearby & will return shortly. When owned cats are taken into shelters less than 2% of them are returned to their owners. Unless the cat you are seeing is in distress or injured & in need of medical attention, it’s best to leave them be so they can either make their way back home or stay safe in the outdoor environment they consider their home. 

What is TNR?  

Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) is the humane approach to addressing community cat populations. It saves cats’ lives and is effective by improving the lives of cats, addressing community concerns, reducing complaints about cats, and stopping the breeding cycle.

Check out these great resources to learn more.

Best Friends: Protecting Community Cats and Taking Action

Tougher questions and detailed answers about cats

Managing Community Cats

Caring for tiny kittens

Ally Cat Allies