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Are your and your neighbors annoyed by the sound of cats howling or fighting?  Are you concerned about a family of kittens that you see has been born to an outdoor cat?   Do you detect a foul feline urine smell on the sidewalk?  Do you see “stray” cats everywhere?

First, a clarification of terms—A stray cat is one who has recently been abandoned or lost from his home.  Because his separation from humans is recent, he retains his domesticated traits, and can easily adapt to a new (or former) household.  A feral cat is one who has lived outside long enough to distrust humans.   Such cats are not adoptable and should remain living on their own.  Their population, however, will grow exponentially unless some control measure is taken.

What NOT To Do

DON’T poison them.  It’s inhumane, and it’s illegal in many places.  Besides, a new colony of cats will move in if there is a food source available.

DON’T trap and move them somewhere else. Cats have formed bonds with the other members of their colony, and separation may cause high anxiety.  The cats may try to return to their original location, putting them at risk for injury when crossing roads.  And as stated above, a new colony of cats will move in where another has left (called the “vacuum effect”).

DON’T feed them…unless they have been neutered (see below).  A well fed pair of cats can produce two or more litters per year, which can result in 400,00 cats in seven years!

DON’T withhold food, thinking they’ll “go away.”  They won’t.  Feral cats develop a strong sense of territory and will only move in closer to the food source (your house and garbage can) if they are hungry.

What SHOULD You Do?

Practice and/or support Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR).  TNR has been shown worldwide to be the most effective, humane method of reducing the feral cat population.  The process entails trapping all the members of a feral colony, neutering them, finding homes for any kittens or friendly adults cats, and returning the rest to their original outdoor location.  After all the cats in a colony have been spayed or neutered, you are encouraged to provide food and/or shelter if you desire.

TNR Benefits the Cats:

  • Spayed and neutered cats live longer, healthier lives.
  • The spread of disease is reduced, as vaccination is often part of the process.
  • Neutered male cats do not fight each other over mates.
  • Neutered male cats do not roam in search of a mate, putting them at risk for being hit by a car.
  • Healthy cats are less prone to flea infestation.
  • The stable and gradually decreasing cat population provides less competition for food sources, reducing hunger.

TNR Benefits YOU:

  • Spayed female cats don’t howl because they are no longer in heat.
  • Neutered male cats don’t engage in noisy cat fights over mates.
  • Neutered male cats don’t spray foul smelling urine.
  • Keeping a colony of healthy, spayed/neutered cats around reduces the rodent population.


We encourage volunteers to call our office for information on volunteering to help capture and transport cats to and from the clinic, register, monitor and provide food and shelter for existing colonies, or participate in occasional fund raising events.  Pets to Go rents humane traps and our clinic provides free spaying/neutering services for feral cat colonies.

For a wealth of information about TNR, visit


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