What Is A Community Cat?

No matter where you are, community cats probably live among you. Community cats are unowned cats who live outdoors in virtually every landscape on every continent where people live. Like pet cats, they belong to the domestic cat species (Felis catus). However, community cats, also called feral cats, are generally not socialized—or friendly—to people. They live full, healthy lives with their feline families (called colonies) in their outdoor homes. Trap-Neuter-Return TNR is the only humane, effective approach to community cats, and it helps them and the communities where they live.

Community Cats are at Home Outdoors

Cats living outdoors is nothing new. For most of their natural history, cats have lived outside alongside people. Evidence shows cats began living near people over 10,000 years ago, before the pyramids were built! It wasn’t until very recently, with the invention of kitty litter in the 1940s, that so many cats began living indoors only. Community cats are truly at home outdoors, just as countless cats have been for thousands of years.

Community Cats are Healthy

Community cats thrive in their outdoor homes. They are used to living outdoors and are naturally skilled at finding shelter and food all on their own. Studies show community cats are just as healthy as pet cats, with equally low disease rates. Community cats also live just as long as pet cats.

Community Cats are Safe Members of the Community

Community cats are not a threat to public health. Since community cats aren’t friendly to people and avoid contact, it is almost impossible for them to transmit diseases. Science shows community cats don’t spread diseases like rabies and toxoplasmosis, and cats rarely carry germs that make people sick.

Community Cats Have a Place in the Natural Environment

Cats have coexisted outdoors with wildlife for thousands of years. Reliable science shows that cats are part of our natural ecosystem and do not significantly impact wildlife populations. As animal lovers, we want what is best for all animals. That means we must address the true threats to all species: human-lead activities like habitat destruction and pollution.

Community Cats Can’t Live Indoors

Community cats are generally not socialized, or friendly, to people. That means they are unable to live indoors with people, and are therefore un-adoptable. Community cats should not be taken to shelters because, nationwide, 70 percent of cats in shelters are killed. That number rises to virtually 100 percent for community cats. The only humane and effective approach to community cats is TNR, and more and more communities and shelters are embracing it through Shelter-Neuter-Return (SNR) and Return to Field (RTF) programs.

Trap-Neuter-Return Helps Cats and the Community

In a Trap-Neuter-Return program, community cats are humanely trapped, brought to a veterinarian to be spayed or neutered, vaccinated, parasite treated and LEFT ear-tipped (the universal sign that a cat has been part of a TNR program), and then returned to their outdoor homes. TNR helps community cats by relieving them of the stresses of mating and breeding, and protecting them from diseases. Communities benefit from TNR because it reduces and stabilizes community cat populations, saves tax-payers’ dollars, helps shelters focus on adoptions, and provides a humane and collaborative way to address concerns and coexist with cats.