Community cats are unowned or semi-owned cats that live their lives outdoors. Community cats may fall into two categories: a “stray” cat probably once lived indoors as a pet, and was then abandoned or given away “free to a good home” to an irresponsible pet owner, but you can usually tell these cats are familiar with and even friendly to humans, as well as being more vocal than a cat defined as “feral.” Feral cats are the other kind of Community Cat- still the same species as pet/domesticated cats, but are frightened of people and avoid human contact by all means necessary. If trapped or cornered, these cats will typically panic instantly, oftentimes causing harm to themselves in their attempt to escape a human. Because of the complexity and likely failure of attempting to “socialize” a feral cat, in addition to the general consensus that these cats- completely unfamiliar with humans in any way other than seeing them throw out a merciful handful of whatever they happen to be eating while spotting the cat- truly “feral” cats cannot be adopted into homes as typical pets. These cats have come to know their environment well enough to stay alive, including where their food and water source is, where to survive a mild winter night, and where their other colony members are.
Regardless of their demeanor or classification as “stray” or “feral,” these Community Cats have one thing in common: their ability to reproduce exponentially. Only about 3% of Community Cats (out of an estimated 80 million) are spayed, neutered, and vaccinated. This means each outdoor cat has the potential to add another 3-5 litters, or about 20-25 new kittens every year, to our already massive homeless animal overpopulation problem here in the South. The following year, their 20-25 offspring will then birth an additional 20-25 new kittens each, resulting in an increase of over 700 cats within just 3 years. Within 7 years, these numbers skyrocket to 10,000, and the cycle of homeless cats producing more homeless cats continues.
So how do we- as community members feeding these cats- help regain control of the population increase, stop the spread of feline/small mammal diseases that are completely preventable in current society with the development of affordable and accessible vaccinations, and simultaneously decrease the strain on our animal shelters by reduce their new spring kitten intake every year?
The overwhelming majority answer is “TNR.”
And it’s simple enough that with the resources available on this site, you can do it all by yourself.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “If you feed them, fix them?”
What this means is that each of our neighborhood’s homeless cats was once either abandoned by a previous owner, given away for free to someone unable to provide sufficient vetting, a lost pet who was never micro-chipped and reunited with their owner, or the offspring of one of these cats. As a result, the fault lies at the feet of humans. When we collectively accept responsibility of a cat we see outdoors, and display the initiative to ensure this cat can no longer continue reproducing (upwards of 20 kittens per year from just ONE unaltered cat) and can no longer risk exposure and possible spread of infectious disease, we begin to see the community cat population stabilize and reduce over time- eliminating the next year’s 20+ new homeless kittens that will overwhelm our community shelters once again next year. Resources are available to help residents who are ready to take that initiative.
Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) is an animal control management practice where community cats are humanely trapped, sterilized by a veterinarian, vaccinated against rabies, eartipped, and returned to the trapping location. An eartip refers to the small portion of the top of a cat's ear that is removed during surgery (while the cat is under anesthesia) to indicate that the cat has been through the TNR process. Decades ago, TNR was performed mainly by caring individuals. Today, TNR is performed by individuals, collectively in neighborhoods by residents, by animal rescue organizations, and in some cases- by shelter employees and animal control officers alike.
Ready to begin TNR in your own neighborhood? Complete and step-by-step instructions are available under “Guides”
PCHS : (3) traps they are able to loan community members on a rotating basis.
Desoto County Animal Shelter, Horn Lake Animal Shelter, and Hernando Animal Shelter are incredibly helpful sources of additional information about how to help the stray cats in your neighborhood.
Email me to borrow mine, or ask any questions you may have about the TNR process.
Spay Memphis accepts feral/community cats (in live, humane traps ONLY) every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday morning between 7:30 – 8:30 am, no appointment necessary.
Only one cat is allowed per trap. Feral/community cats will not be accepted in regular cat carriers or kennels – no exceptions.
A maximum of (1) CAT PER DAY may be brought per trapper or TNR group each day.
The cost of each cat is $35 and includes the spay or neuter, rabies vaccine, pain injection, ear tip, and penicillin shot. The ear tip is mandatory for cats brought in as feral/community cats.
Pick up the cat the same day at 4pm, no later than 5pm. Please remember to keep the trap covered to help ease the cat’s anxiety during the TNR process. Females typically need 48 hours to recover before they can be released safely, while males only need 24 hours. The recovery/holding area should be safe, dry, quiet, away from high traffic areas, and temperature regulated during hot or cold months. Before releasing, feed the cat (using your trap divider) a can of wet food to ensure it stays well-hydrated post surgery.
First, make sure someone is regularly feeding them and leaving clean, fresh water. If someone is taking care of them, and you are looking to stop the constant reproducing, talk to your neighbors and make a plan! You’ll need to find neighbors to help trap, transport to/from our clinic, and recover post-surgery until they can be re-released. Once you have a plan, you can set up a neighborhood TNR account at our clinic for your neighbors to donate to cover the cost of the cats’ spay/neuter. Email email@example.com to set up a neighborhood account prior to bringing in any trapped cats.
The Complete Community Cats Library
Learn how to protect Community Cats