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Advice About Cats

For local information, the best resource is Alley Cat Allies’ Feral Friends Network. Our network is made up of volunteers who have offered to help people like you, in their community. They can help you find someplace to borrow a trap, provide a list of local veterinary resources, walk you through humanely trapping a cat, and more. So don’t be shy! Request a list of Feral Friends–they are here to help!

For other inquiries, or to get additional information now, please use the form below. Answer the first question to get started!

Note:  Click on underlined text to open related information in a separate browser tab.





Low Cost Veterinary Care

Spay/Neuter

Spaying and neutering is very important for the health of your cat! There are many options for low-cost spay/neuter providers:

  • Access a list of Alley Cat Allies’ veterinary Feral Friends Network members in your area. This international network, maintained by Alley Cat Allies, consists of individuals and organizations that have feral cat experience. The veterinary Feral Friends likely provide spay/neuter for pet/companion cats, as well. Please note that not all of our veterinary Feral Friends are able to offer low-cost services, so you should contact them directly to find out their schedules and fees.
  • View the ASPCA Professional spay/neuter database for a list of spay/neuter clinics across the country.
  • Contact Friends of Animals at www.friendsofanimals.org or 1-800-321-7387.
  • Contact Spay/USA at www.spayusa.org or 1-800-248-7729.

Be sure to call your local animal welfare or rescue groups personally to ask about any funding assistance that may be available. From time to time, some organizations receive grants that allow them to provide surgeries for a lower cost than usual.

Emergency Care for Illness or Injury

Emergency care for an ill or injured companion cat can be costly, and financial concerns can lend added stress to an already difficult time.

We encourage you to visit our list of Financial Resources for Cat Care for a list of organizations that may offer financial assistance with veterinary care, and for other ideas for getting help. Note that each organization has its own application process, so please review the information carefully to learn whether you qualify.

Please note that Alley Cat Allies is not a grant-making organization and cannot provide financial assistance for veterinary bills. We hope this information allows you to access affordable options for the veterinary care that your companion animal needs.

Finding Homes for a Pet/Companion Cat

There are times when pet owners are forced with a difficult decision to give up a loving pet cat. Naturally, people will think that the best idea is to bring the cat to an animal shelter. The sad truth is that there is a high probability that a cat brought into a shelter will be killed. In fact, 70% of cats that enter shelters are killed. This number rises to nearly 100% for feral cats and kittens.

However, if you really think an animal shelter is your only option, just be sure to ask them about their adoption procedures, the typical duration of stay, and (most importantly) their euthanasia policy. Remember, it will always be the shelter’s discretion to euthanize a cat for any reason, so please think it through before taking your cat there. You can read more about shelters in our Cat Fatalities page.

Giving up your cat is tough enough and the last thing you want to worry about is whether it will end up in a good home. The best way to ensure it does is by searching for a new home through private adoption. This way, you have peace of mind that your cat is going into a loving new home. We have some great tips to make this a reality through our Finding Homes for Socialized guide. You will find all the steps you need to successfully promote your cat for adoption, including talking to friends, neighbors and co-workers, or even tapping into your social media contacts and connections. Most people adopt their pets through personal connections, so it’s worth asking. Be sure to use photos and personal stories about the cat to highlight its unique personality. Not only will this make your request more fun and engaging, but it will help you to truly find the best match for your cat.

If you have found yourself in a situation where your housing has changed and you are not able to keep your cat until you find it a new home, you should try reaching out to friend and family to see if they would be willing to help foster for you. We have a wealth of information if you do find yourself facing foreclosure or need help finding pet-friendly housing in our guide for Financial Resources for Cat Care.

Have you exhausted all of your options and don’t know where else to turn? You can always try and search for no-kill shelters in your area through No Paws Left Behind. Of course, you should still make sure you are aware of the euthanasia policies of any “no-kill” shelter. Just because they call themselves a “no-kill” shelter does not necessarily mean they do not kill at all. This is why we consider “no-kill” shelters to be a last resort option, and then only if their euthanasia policies have been clearly discussed with you beforehand.

Dealing with Improper Elimination (difficulty/reluctance using a litter box)

If your companion cat is not using the litter box, don’t give up on your beloved pet! Though frustrating, this behavior is often indicative of something — your cat is likely trying to tell you something. Use these tips to identify what that is.

  • First, if your cat isn't yet spayed or neutered, start there.This behavior is strongly associated with mating behaviors, and could be eliminated with sterilization.
  • Always begin with a veterinary exam to rule out any medical cause for litter box issues. Cats can suffer from urinary tract infections, bladder infections, emergency urinary blockages, arthritis, musculoskeletal pain, and other conditions that may affect their litter box habits.
  • Make sure that the litter box is comfortable to access and set up in a way your cat likes. In one story we know, a cat stopped using her litter box because she had to walk through the room where a dog was staying to get to it. Moving the box away from the dog threat fixed the problem immediately.  So, think through the litter box location and set up from your cat’s perspective. This means:
      • Sides low enough to get in.
      • Large enough to stand in and turn in comfortably.
      • In a relatively quiet location.
      • Removing the lid. Some cats don’t like being boxed in, so consider removing that if you have one.
  • Try different consistencies of litter and have multiple boxes available while trying:
      • Shredded paper
      • Pine litter
      • Corn litter
      • Clay litter
      • Sand
      • Clumping
      • Dirt
      • Cat attract litter
  • Remove all fabric and carpet from the environment. Your cat may be attracted to these items. It may be a marking behavior or a preference for the texture. If willing, you can select towels to put in the litter box, remove them multiple times daily, place them in an airtight container like a Diaper Dooley, and then wash weekly.
  • Use an enzymatic cleaner in the soiled areas. Enzymatic cleaners actually break down the organic matter in urine. This can help remove any “urine marker,” which draws cats back to the same area to eliminate.
  • Consider non-pharmaceutical behavior modifiers such as Feliway, Rescue Remedy, or Composure Soft Chews.
  • Does the cat prefer to go to the bathroom outdoors? If so, consider creating a safe indoor/outdoor environment.
  • Consult a behaviorist.
  • Restrict the areas of the home the cat can access to easily cleaned hard surface areas.
  • As a last resort, consider behavior modifying medication. Ask your veterinarian about these options and possible side effects.
Natural Disasters

Emergency situations like extreme weather and natural disasters can happen without warning. If you are currently under threat by an extreme weather event, we hope your family — including pets and feral cat colonies — are safe. The best response is to be prepared: make sure you’ve got a plan in place for your family, companion animals, and feral cat colonies in case of an unexpected emergency.

There are things you can do to prepare when harsh weather is forecast or predicted:

  • Have descriptions of the cats in your colony, along with photos. If you need to look for displaced cats in shelters or other rescue areas this will help accurately identify them.
  • Make sure all pet tags and animal microchips have up-to-date information.

If you do need to evacuate, bring your pets with you, but do not try to trap and contain unsocialized feral cats. Have a safe place to go ahead of time, and be sure to bring your emergency supply kits.

Find details and more information at: http://www.alleycat.org/DisasterTips

Responding to neglect, poisoning, or violence

It is truly sad and frightening to know that anyone would ever go out of their way to harm a cat. However, all is not lost! There are steps that you can take to ensure the safety of the cats you care for. These important tips will better prepare you for responding to situations where cats have been harmed or threatened:

  • Killing cats is illegal! Anti-cruelty laws include all cats—pet, stray, or feral—and the intentional killing or injuring of a cat is a criminal offense in all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia.
  • File a report with local authorities immediately! They should be able to help you find out who is responsible for humane investigations in your town.
  • Collect evidence! Documenting everything you know or see about an incident can make all the difference in these types of investigations. Take photos, record your observations, and note accurate times and dates. As difficult and emotional as it is, it is important to have a veterinarian examine any deceased cat you find in order to obtain a written report on the exact cause of death. While it may be difficult in this sort of emotional situation, it is important to have a veterinarian examine any deceased cat you find in order to obtain a written report on the exact cause of death. You can use our Feral Friends Network to find local resources for veterinary care for feral cats as well as for additional support and guidance.
  • Educate your community! Building relationships with neighbors in your community is extremely crucial to ensuring the safety of cats. Knock on doors and engage people in a conversation to explain how you are helping cats in the community, respond to any of their questions or concerns, and make them aware of anti-cruelty laws. Oftentimes, people just aren’t aware of what community cats are, and speaking with them directly can calm and educate them. You may even find other advocates right in your own backyard!

For this information and more, please visit the Troubleshoot with Community Members section of our Community Relations Resource Center. This will have great information to help you reach out to community members and find a humane solution to help cats and people coexist. In particular, the information on Responding to Violent Threats will build on what we have shared here and can help you keep cats safe in your community.

Natural Disasters

Emergency situations like extreme weather and natural disasters can happen without warning. If you are currently under threat by an extreme weather event, we hope your family—including pets and feral cat colonies—are safe. The best response is to be prepared: make sure you’ve got a plan in place for your family, companion animals, and feral cat colonies in case of an unexpected emergency.

It's important to know that feral cats are resourceful. The outdoors is their home, so they know how to deal with weather. Many times animals can "sense" when bad weather is coming, and in the case of hurricanes, they often move to higher ground and safe places instinctually.

However, there are things you can do to prepare when harsh weather is forecast or predicted:

  • Have descriptions of the cats in your colony, along with photos. If you need to look for displaced cats in shelters or other rescue areas this will help accurately identify them.
  • Turn shelters and feeding station openings away from the storm surge, and if possible, move them to slightly higher, protected ground nearby.
  • Fill food and water bowls in case you have to evacuate and can’t return immediately.

If you do need to evacuate, bring your pets with you, but do not try to trap and contain unsocialized feral cats. Have a safe place to go ahead of time, and be sure to bring your emergency supply kits.

After the disaster has passed and it is safe to return, begin cleaning up the colony area, check feeding stations, and look for the cats in your colony. Don’t panic if the cats aren’t waiting when you get back — they can hide for days after severe weather. If any are missing, contact your local shelters and determine which agencies, if any, are on the ground in your area assisting animals.

Find details and more information at: http://www.alleycat.org/DisasterTips

Veterinary Care for Ill or Injured Cats

If you come across a sick or injured outdoor cat, seek immediate medical attention. But since the cat is likely feral (and therefore fearful of people), you need a plan that will keep her safe and calm. We recommend you take the following course of action:

  • Find a veterinary facility with experience treating and handling feral cats and with an understanding of feral cat behavior and Trap-Neuter-Return. To find out if there are any feral-friendly veterinarians near you, request a list of Alley Cat Allies' Feral Friends Network members in your area. If there are no veterinary Feral Friends in the results, contact the non-veterinary Feral Friends to ask for a veterinary recommendation. Or, you can provide your veterinarian with information about the proper handling and treatment of feral cats by visiting our Feral Cat Veterinary Resource Center.
  • Ask about your veterinarian's euthanasia policy. Unfortunately, veterinarians who have not been trained to work with feral cats often suggest euthanizing feral cats rather than treating them. Please be aware of your veterinarian's feral cat policies before taking cats there. Alley Cat Allies' philosophy is that an animal should only be euthanized in the event of terminal illness or untreatable injury. Learn more about The Difference between Euthanasia and Killing.
  • Once you've found a veterinarian, follow our steps for safely and humanely trapping cats, including those who are sick or injured, in the How to Conduct Trap-Neuter-Return and How to Trap a Trap-Shy Cat sections of our website. Please note we do not recommend withholding food for an extended period of time to a cat who is ill.
  • You will also have to consider what you will do in the event that the cat needs long-term care. Make sure you have an idea of where she can be held while she's recovering or receiving medical treatment.
  • Have a financial plan. Please note that Alley Cat Allies is not a grant-making organization and cannot provide financial assistance for veterinary bills. Please see our financial resources for cat care for advice and grant-making organizations that may be able to help.

Thank you for caring for ill or injured cats. We hope this information helps you decide what course of action is in the cat's best interest.

Trapping Threatened or in Progress

If neighbors, property management, animal control, etc. have threatened to trap or prevent you from caring for outdoor cats, follow these steps to protect the cats and resolve the conflict:

  1. Count all of your cats.
    Knowing how many cats you care for will help you identify if cats have been trapped and, if so, which ones. Having records of the colony will also prepare you for negotiating. Use our tracking sheet to guide you.
  2. Try and keep the cats from going into the traps.
    If traps have already been set, consider overfeeding cats so they will not be tempted to go into the traps for the bait. Offer lots of tasty and aromatic food that the cats will be drawn to—consider tuna, sardines, fried chicken, or canned food. Feed the cats multiple times a day. You may, also, want to consider using humane deterrents around the traps. Please note that if a government agency such as animal control is setting the traps, it may be illegal to tamper with traps or to release trapped cats.
  3. Look for any missing cats.
    If cats are missing, immediately go to local pounds or animal shelters in person to find and claim them. It is crucial to go in person. Do not just call. If the cats aren't at the shelter, return often to check for them. You can leave their descriptions, your phone number, and a note to call you immediately, but never rely on shelter personnel to identify your cats. Go in person as often as necessary. You may also want to ask what the shelter's policies are for feral cats - Can an individual caregiver claim feral cats out of the shelter? Is there a fee involved? If an individual cannot claim feral cats, would a local rescue group be allowed to?
  4. Stop the trapping and set up a meeting.
    If trapping has begun, try to find out who is responsible for setting the traps (this could be your neighbor, animal control, private trapping company or property management) and request that they stop trapping immediately and meet with you to discuss humane solutions. Follow up on your request in writing. If more than three meeting requests are ignored, skip to step 5.
  5. Know your local laws and procedures.
    Protect yourself and the cats by learning more about your community's animal control policies and other laws that affect cats and caregivers. Visit our Citations Help page for more information on how to find local ordinances, information on how to speak with Animal Control and more.
  6. Negotiate for the cats.
    Get your facts together, dress professionally, and plan your talking points. Remain calm and objective. Do not go alonebring a member of our Feral Friends Network or other representative from a Trap-Neuter-Return organization, or another advocate or caregiver. Offer effective bargaining chips that benefit everyone like TNR and colony care—not relocation. While it may seem hard to create a dialogue in a confrontational situation, our experience is that most people are just frustrated and when you talk to them about their concerns they are willing and open to listening. Find more tips on negotiating visit our How to Resolve Issues about Cats with Others resource.
  7. Start a Trap-Neuter-Return program.
    If you haven't already, begin a targeted TNR program to ensure that all cats on the property are neutered. One of the strongest bargaining chips you can offer is effectively, humanely stabilizing the cat population. Learn how to practice targeted trapping to trap the whole colony. Not experienced with trapping? Learn how to carry out TNR. You can also ask the Feral Friends Network members in your area for advice, or attend one of our Helping Cats in Your Community Webinars.
  8. Build community support for the cats.
    Establish yourself as the contact person for the cats by going door to door. If the cats live in a housing community or industrial area, you may be able to find support among neighbors, tenants or employees. Fill them in on the situation and hand out truth cards to answer their questions. Educate them about feral cats and how TNR helps the whole community. View our truth cards and other educational materials in our Educate Your Neighbors resource.

    If you are having difficulty reaching an agreement with the person responsible for the trapping, ask supporters to raise their voice in support. It is not uncommon, especially in conflicts with property managers or Animal Control, for decision makers to only hear about complaints and hearing from community members who support the cats can provide a more balanced prospective.
  9. Connect with local cat-friendly groups.
    Find other organizations in your area that support your efforts through Alley Cat Allies' Feral Friends Network. Our Feral Friends Network is comprised of individuals, organizations, and veterinary care providers with outdoor cat experience. They can provide information on local resources and help you become a TNR expert. In addition, they may be able to provide support and advice to help you resolve conflicts about the cats based on their valuable local experience. Click here to find Feral Friends near you!
  10. Make your community more cat-friendly.
    Advocate for cats community-wide by changing policies and laws to protect them. Our Advocacy Toolkit will arm you with the basics in citizen lobbying and prepare you to advocate for cats.

As you move through these steps, keep in mind that local caregivers and organizations are the most effective voices for cats in their community. Many people feel that the influence of nationwide organizations or the spot light of the media may be the most effective tool but the voices of actually community members tend to resonate the loudest and these steps were designed to help you become stellar advocates for outdoor cats in their community.

For more information on resolving conflicts about cats, please visit the Troubleshooting with Community Members section of our Community Relations Resource Center.

I’m Seeing Cats and Want to Help

One of the first things we would recommend is determining whether these cats are socialized or feral cats. You can visit our Stray or Feral Guide to help you distinguish the difference. Understanding the cat's temperament will help you determine the best way to help

Feral cats live and thrive in the outdoors and the best way to help feral cats is to have them trapped, neutered, and returned to their outdoor home. Not only does this prevent future litters, but it also improves the cats' lives and health—and makes them "better neighbors" by eliminating spraying, roaming, and fighting behaviors. Learn more at www.alleycat.org/casefortnr.

We have lots of resources to empower individuals to become Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) experts, including our How to TNR Guide and our Helping Cats in the Community Webinar. You can also get great advice and guidance from experts in your community with Alley Cat Allies' Feral Friends Network. Click here to Request a list of Feral Friends.

If the cats are socialized strays, consider following our Socialized Cat Guide which outlines how to help find homes for friendly cats. Unfortunately, over 70% of socialized cats and nearly 100% of feral cats taken to shelters are killed so the best way to find homes for socialized cats is to promote the cats yourself, and directly seek adoptive homes. Neutering the cats is still strongly recommended, as it will prevent future litters and might make the cats easier to adopt out. If you do not have the resources to find individual homes, these socialized cats can be part of a TNR program and be returned to their colony to continue living a full and healthy life outdoors.

Introduction to Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR)

Thank you for your interest in helping the cats and people in your community through Trap-Neuter-Return!

Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) is the only humane and effective way to stabilize feral cat populations. Through TNR, cats are humanely trapped, neutered and vaccinated, and then returned to their home outdoors. Not only does this prevent future litters, but it improves the life and health of the cats. It can even make the cats"better neighbors" since neutering eliminates behaviors such as spraying, roaming, fighting, and yowling associated with mating. Take a look at TNR in action by watching our video What is Trap-Neuter-Return?

Here are three ways to quickly get educated about how to conduct TNR:

  • Our comprehensive How to Conduct TNR Guide will help educate you from start to finish. The guide also includes advice on how to help feral kittens, pregnant or nursing mother cats, and socialized stray cats living within a feral cat colony. You can also purchase our guide at www.alleycat.org/Shop.
  • Our monthly Helping Cats in Your Community Webinar can walk you through the basics of TNR and demonstrates best practices as well as give you a chance to ask questions from our expert staff. You can, also, view archived sessions of this webinar at the link above.
  • Our video, How to Trap an Entire Colony, will provide a quick overview of how to target an entire colony which can be a great way to have a big impact in your neighborhood.

Finding Local TNR Support Resources
Next, let's take a look at local resources that may be able to help you. Alley Cat Allies maintains a network of individuals and organizations across the country, called our Feral Friends Network, that are able to provide local advice, guidance, or veterinary services to help you implement Trap-Neuter-Return for feral cats in your area. Request a list of Feral Friends.

Deterrents: Learn how to deter cats from certain areas
When you engage in TNR, it's important to understand outdoor cat behaviors and what draws cats to certain areas so that you can ensure the cats' safety and acceptance in your neighborhood. We have simple solutions to divert outdoor cats away from places they are not wanted! Learn how to carry out these solutions in How to Live with Cats in Your Neighborhood or order this resource as a full-color brochure at www.alleycat.org/Shop. You can also visit the Helping Cats and People to Co-exist section of our Colony Care Guide for more information on how you can help cats be good neighbors in their community

Taking it Further: Engaging in Community Relations
An important part of caring for a feral cat colony is educating neighboring residents or businesses. A little education can go a long way toward preventing future conflicts that could affect the cats' well-being. Alley Cat Allies' Community Relations Resource Center will help you educate your neighbors, prevent conflicts, troubleshoot with community members, and campaign on behalf of cats.

This comprehensive resource includes:

  • Information and resources on how to talk to your neighbors about feral cats, Trap-Neuter-Return, and what you do on behalf of cats.
  • Step-by-step advice to easily address neighbors' concerns through mediation.
  • Suggested bargaining chips you can offer to reach a peaceful compromise for both the people and cats.
  • Tips on organizing to effect change for cats in your community.
Colony Care

Thank you for your interest in caring for stray and feral cats! You’ve come to the right placeAlley Cat Allies has more than 20 years of experience in caring for cats, which we’ve developed into an extensive how-to library of cat care resources.

Visit our Colony Care Guide for detailed instructions on:

The very best way to care for cats is with Trap-Neuter-Return—learn more in our How to Conduct Trap-Neuter-Return Guide!

Looking for Financial Assistance?

As an educational and advocacy organization, Alley Cat Allies is not able to provide financial grants or funding assistance. Please visit our Financial Resources for Cat Care guide for a list of resources we have compiled to assist caregivers facing financial hardships. This includes tips for finding help with veterinary care, and for locating free or affordable sources of cat food.

If you are seeking assistance with cat food, please also visit our Feeding Guidelines for tips that can keep food bills low by ensuring no food goes to waste! Please note that stabilizing the population through Trap-Neuter-Return is an important step in preventing food costs from growing. There are often low-cost options for spay/neuter, and the cost of surgery will be worth it — by providing health benefits to the cat, and by preventing food bills from growing with each new litter of kittens! Our Feral Friends Network may be able to help you find low-cost spay/neuter options in your area and may know of additional local resource for help with cat care. Request a list of Feral Friends.

Finding Local Resources

Alley Cat Allies' international network of individuals and organizations working in local communities is called our Feral Friends Network.

Feral Friends have agreed to provide practical advice, advocacy assistance, guidance and/or veterinary services to others working to implement Trap-Neuter-Return for feral cats in their area. Please do not expect members of the Feral Friends Network to trap cats for you. Request a list of Feral Friends.

You can also link with other like-minded individuals by joining the Alley Cat Allies conversation online:

Facebook
Alley Cat Allies: http://www.facebook.com/AlleyCatAllies
Becky Robinson: http://www.facebook.com/ACAPresident

Twitter
Alley Cat Allies: http://www.twitter.com/AlleyCatAllies
Becky Robinson: http://www.twitter.com/FeralBecky

Kittens

Did you come across some adorable kittens that you want to help out? While many people may assume that the local shelter is the best resource for kittens they have found outside, this is not the case. Many shelters lack the time and resources to care for young kittens and, unfortunately, over 70% of cats that enter shelters are killed there and for feral cats that number is closer to 100%. Instead, head over to our Kitten Guide to learn how to best help outdoor kittens.

Here are some things to consider when you first find kittens outdoors:

  • Mama cat makes the best caregiver! For any kittens not yet weaned, it is important that you not move the kittens unless they are in immediate danger or until you confirm that their mother is no longer able to care for them. Remember, mama cat is always provides the best chance of survival for her kittens. If you do not see mom at the moment, allow time (multiple hours) for her to return before deciding to intervene.
  • Plan Ahead! In order to do what's best for kittens, you need to know what sort of care the kittens may need! Start by determining the kittens age using our Kitten Progression Guide. It is important to understand that we do not recommend trying to socialize feral kittens over 4 months of age. For kittens 4 months of age and older, we'd recommend including them in your plans to Trap-Neuter-Return the adult members of the colony.
  • Caring for kittens is a commitment! Very young kittens will need 'round the clock care! Read about caring for neonatal kittens at http://www.alleycat.org/neonatal. Socializing older kittens for adoption, also, takes time and resources, but it's very rewarding, too. The first time you hear a formerly feral kitten "purr" is awesome! To learn more about socializing kittens, and the time and resources you'll need, check out our Socialization Guide.
  • Care for the whole family. Be sure to consider how you will help the mother cat as well as her kittens as part of your plan. Taking the step of getting outdoor cats in your neighborhood spayed or neutered is essential to preventing another litter of kittens and keeping outdoor cats healthy. Our "Kitten and Mom Scenarios" resource guide will have important information to consider before intervening with the kittens as well as tips on trapping and caring for the whole family.

Don't forget about our Feral Friends if you need additional guidance or support when you have found kittens outside! Our Feral Friends Network members will have valuable information and referrals for everything from trapping to finding veterinary care.

Request a list of Feral Friends.

Why Cats Belong Outdoors

We have resources that can help you effectively address the feral cat population in your community.

Removing outdoor cats from the area where they live is actually not an effective approach for a variety of reasons. There are other approaches that are better for you, your community, and the cats.

Cats have been living outdoors for over 10,000 years. Feral cats are not socialized and are therefore not adoptable, so removing them and taking them to a shelter will almost always result in the cats being killed. And relocating the cats should be avoided, because the cats are bonded to the location they inhabit and will try to return to it. A food source exists in the area and the cats are acclimated to local conditions.

Plus, if cats are removed from their outdoor location, this creates a "void" in the environment that more cats move into, and breed to fill. This is a well-documented phenomenon known as the vacuum effect. Please see The Vacuum Effect: Why Catch and Kill Doesn’t Work for more information.

A far better approach is to resolve the issue that is causing you to want to remove the cats. Many issues you may be having can be resolved through Trap-Neuter-Return, or TNR. Trap-Neuter-Return involves trapping the cats, having them spayed/neutered and vaccinated, then returning them to the location where they were trapped. Trap-Neuter-Return stabilizes the population by preventing any new litters, and it ends undesirable behaviors associated with mating, including yowling, fighting, and roaming. It also prevents other cats from seeing the area as “open territory” and moving in to live and breed. To learn more about how and why TNR works, please read The Case for TNR.

If you simply want the cats to stay out of your garden or yard, consider using deterrents—products that can humanely deter cats from areas where they are not wanted. For a list of deterrents and other solutions, please visit Easy Solutions to Common Cat Behaviors.

Changing Policies/Ordinances

Have you discovered an existing law in your town that is negatively impacting cats? Or maybe you are interested in advocating for new policies toward feral cats in your local shelter. We have great resources that can help you make your community a better place for cats.

Our Ordinances Help resource has all the information you need when it comes to learning about how local laws affect cats. One of the best things about TNR is that it is not necessary to pass a law to do it! As long as your community does not have an ordinance in place that negatively impacts cats, you can get started with TNR right now! Use our Change Your Community guide for tips on educating the community, mediating neighbor concerns, networking with other cat advocates, working with your local shelter, and organizing TNR efforts in your town.

Here are some topics to consider:

  • Community members are being cited for caring for cats! This is a truly unfair situation for caregivers like you. After all, these caring individuals are only trying to help outdoor kitties out of the kindness of their hearts. However, our Citations Help page has everything you need to research your local laws and decide whether or not you will need an attorney. Unfortunately, we cannot offer you legal advice or representation, but we hope that these resources can point you in the right direction.
  • There is a proposed or existing ordinance that negatively impacts cats! Our Advocacy Toolkit will have the tools you need to help you negotiate for better policies for cats. This includes information on how certain polices can help or harm cats, tips for meeting with local decision makers, and advice on how to grow community support for policies or ordinances that protect the lives of cats in your community!
  • My shelter does not have live-saving policies for cats! Nationally, only about 30% of cats who enter shelters have positive outcomes. For many caregivers and shelter employees that’s no longer good enough. We know that many communities want to adopt policies to protect cats and our Transforming Shelters Toolkit is a great place for advocates to start.

If you are an advocate who is working to make your community a better place for cats, we would love to hear from you! Please complete the following questions. We know that community advocates are the most effective tool in creating positive change for cats and are happy to provide guidance to support you in your efforts.

Please enter your contact information:







From Neonatal Kitten Care to Helping Cats in Your Community, our webinars teach individuals and groups how to help protect cats’ lives.  For more information, please visit our website at www.alleycat.org/webinar


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