Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

Who are community cats and what are colonies?

The term community cat encompasses everything from cats who have never been socialized with people (feral cats) to stray, more socialized cats who are abandoned or lost and are living their lives outdoors. Cats most often live in groups, and these are called “colonies” of cats, or sometimes, “clowders.”

What is TNVR?

Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return is the humane, effective approach for managing community cats.The cats are humanely trapped, spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and eartipped (the universal symbol of a sterilized and vaccinated cat), and then returned to their outdoor home. Socialized cats and kittens are adopted into homes. No more kittens are born and the population stabilizes!

What is an eartip? Does it hurt?

An eartip is the surgical removal to the tip of a cat’s left ear, done under anesthesia, to show that the cat has already been sterilized and vaccinated. It’s not at all painful for the cat, and the easy identification helps ensure a cat isn’t unnecessarily re-trapped.

What are the benefits of TNVR?

TNVR transforms the lives of cats by eliminating the stress of reproduction, and eliminating mating behaviors, such as fighting, that lead to the transmission of diseases. This behavior change also allows cats to live more peacefully with human neighbors because it eliminates or reduces spraying, yowling, and fighting. The cats are healthier and happier, and no more kittens are born.

Help! I found a kitten!

Young kittens are very fragile. If you see a kitten under a few weeks of age outside, take a minute to assess the situation. See if mom is nearby. If so, the kitten is likely safest staying with her until you have a plan in place for the kitten and to carry out TNVR on the mom. If the kitten is alone, however, look to these resources for help in providing immediate care, and reach out to us for guidance.

Videos on caring for kittens, including feeding and potty time.

Can a community cat be socialized?

It depends! A truly feral cat - one who was born outside and who has lived primarily without human contact, rarely adapts to housecat life. In fact, trying to force it can be incredibly stressful to these cats. The best way to help them is through TNVR and quality colony care.

Some cats seem feral at first, but may be strays who have been on their own for a while. In this case, they may regain some affection for humans over time. Use your best judgment in determining where each cat you interact with will be happiest. This guide can help.

When it comes to kittens, the older they get, the more challenging it is to socialize them to humans. Kittens over 12 weeks rarely acclimate, and socialization is a time consuming process. Most of the time, it makes sense for these kittens to be part of your TNVR project.

When can cats undergo TNVR?

More and more clinics are embracing the 2 months - 2 pounds rule, which saves lives! This way, kittens can be sterilized and vaccinated, and then be adopted or returned to their colonies, depending on their socialization levels. Remember, a kitten can get pregnant as early as four months old, so don’t delay! See here for more.

How can I help community cats?

Volunteer with us!

You can learn more about carrying out TNVR here.

My neighbor doesn’t like outdoor cats - how can I help them coexist?

Many times a situation can be diffused by a simple conversation - letting your neighbor know you are working to carry out TNVR with the cats and educating them on what that means. There are also humane deterrents you can use to keep cats off of other people’s property. And of course, make sure you are following best practices for colony care so that things are neat and tidy. An inconspicuous colony is a safe colony. See this guide for more information.

How do I care for community cats beyond TNVR?

This is a helpful one page guide to best practices in colony care. And here’s a more complete guide.

Extreme weather is cause for a few special steps. During winter, look to this helpful guide. Don’t forget that the heat brings its own concerns, so look to this guide to beat the heat.

Looking to give community cats a nice place to rest? Look to this shelter guide for options you can build or buy.

Can I relocate a community cat colony?

Relocation is extremely difficult and should only be attempted when there is no other option. Often, cats try to find their way back to their original homes and get lost or hurt along the way. If a colony is in an unsafe location and relocation is the last resort, this guide shares the safest way to go about it for the best chance of a safe transition for the cats.