A term that has been buzzing around the animal world lately is something called a “community cat.” What does that mean? Why should you care?

Simply put, a community cat is any cat that is not owned. These cats can be feral and unsocialized; they can be strays, lost, or abandoned; they can be born indoors or in the wild; they can even be friendly and socialized. Often these cats reside in a colony or “community” with other cats they trust. Community cats are very resilient and intelligent as they have been thriving alongside humans since the time of the Pyramids.

It is estimated that 30 million – 80 million community cats live in the United States. Only 2% of these are spayed or neutered. This daunting number seems overwhelming to many people. Since the number of cats altered is so minuscule, the population grows and grows. One unspayed female can produce two to five kittens in a litter and can have a litter as quickly as every three or four months.

Merely removing cats from an area will not solve the problem. Removal creates “The Vacuum Effect.” When cats are removed, other community cats travel and take up residence in the now empty space. They do this because the cats that were originally in the space have left abundant resources available. It is said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. This is why the trap and kill or relocating methods will never result in fewer cats.

The best solution is Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) thus stopping the continuous cat population growth. TNR is a world-wide program where cats are humanely trapped, brought to a clinic to be spayed/neutered and ear tipped, given rabies vaccinations and returned to their original location where they can no longer reproduce. The ear tip is a small cut on the tip of the cat’s left ear– a universal sign that a cat has been altered.

TNR reduces cat population growth, ultimately decreases the number of community cats, and increases communal happiness. All people and animals benefit from TNR, and most agree TNR is for the greater good. By lessening the number of community cats, more cat lives are saved. This allows shelters to give more attention and space to domestic animals, which saves even more lives! Ultimately, with TNR, a neighborhood will eventually be free of what is often seen as a nuisance.

If you know of any community cats in your area needing TNR or just want to learn more, please visit our community cat page for more information, email us at communitycats@HumaneAnimalRescue.org or call us at 412-345-7300 x209. We would love to guide you through the steps of TNR and help you save more kitty lives!


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