What is a community cat?
Community cats are unowned cats who live outdoors in virtually every landscape on every continent where people live... However, community cats, also called feral cats, are generally not socialized - or friendly - to people. They live full, healthy lives with their feline families (called colonies) in their outdoor homes.
The ASPCA uses the term “community cats” to encompass any un-owned cat. Included under this umbrella are feral cats, those who have been lost or abandoned, and cats who might receive food and intermittent care from one or more residents In a community. Feral cats are cats who are too poorly socialized to be placed as a typical pet.
According to Best Friends Animal Society, “Nearly three-quarters of cats who enter our nation’s animal shelters each year are killed. Most are free-roaming, stray or feral cats. Here at Best Friends, we refer to them as community cats. Although some of these cats are adoptable, many more are not. And for un-adoptable cats, a trip to the shelter is often fatal.”
“Protecting Community Cats.” Best Friends Animal Society, 11 Mar. 2019, bestfriends.org/our-work/best-friends-advocacy/protecting-community-cats.
It Takes a Community
The Humane Society of Yuma’s Community Cat Program is supported by Best Friends Animal Society’s funding and mentorship. This program has been a vital part of our life-saving work and has proven to be an amazingly effective means to reduce intake numbers of cats entering the shelter. Shelters and animal welfare groups across the country are implementing community cat programs to great success. Yuma has joined that effort in addressing the cat population in our community humanely and effectively.
HSOY’s Community Cat Program exclusively deals with community cats that are brought to the shelter. Cats that have been trapped or found outside, do not have any identification (Microchip, collar or ID tag), are of a healthy weight and good body condition are immediately scheduled for surgery, vaccinated, ear tipped and returned back to the location in which they were found. Cats are notorious for their navigational skills; they have a much higher likelihood of finding their way back home if returned to the place in which they were found. If they are of a healthy weight and good body condition, it signifies that they have a good food source and are capable of staying safe outdoors.
How to determine if a cat is an owned pet or is a community cat?
The Humane Society of Yuma uses the above mentioned factors when determining if a cat is owned or is a community cat. If a cat is found/trapped outside and DOES NOT have any identification (i.e. a collar, identification tag or a microchip), the Humane Society of Yuma categorizes it as a community cat. Behavior is not a determining factor, because in a trap or shelter kennel, stress levels are high for any cat, owned/friendly or wild.
What is T.N.R.?
Trap - Neuter - Release, or TNR, is a method of managing feral cat colonies humanely and effectively. Feral cats are trapped in humane cages using food as bait. They are then spayed or neutered and released where they were originally trapped. We are able to continue to track these colonies because a cat that has gone through the TNR process will have the tip of his/her ear "tipped" off. That way if a cat is ever re-caught for TNR, he/she can be re-released and will in-turn save precious resources. These cats will also be vaccinated for many feline diseases including rabies.
The Humane Society of Yuma has returned over 470 community cats that were brought into the shelter as a stray, back to the location in which they were found. This is outside of the work of Feline Friends. We are half way through the year and have already seen a decline in the total number of cats coming into our care. This however, does not offset the fact that we are saving more lives than ever before and investing more of our funds on average per animal. We want to thank and recognize Best Friends Animal Society for funding and supporting the Community Cat Program and ASAVET Charities who came to Yuma from Tucson to perform a total of 576 spay/neuter surgeries for community cats.
What should I do if a cat starts hanging around my house?
If the cat is tame, you should take steps to find the cat's owner. If unsuccessful, the person should take steps to find a permanent home for the cat. If the cat is feral, unapproachable and wary aer several days of feeding, please contact Feline Friends (see contact information on back of brochure). We will let you know if the colony is currently being managed. If you see a cat with a notch on it's ear, it has already been trapped, neutered and returned.
Why should I support TNR?
When feral cats are trapped, neutered and returned to their territory, they no longer reproduce. The cessation of sexual activity eliminates the noise associated with mating behavior and dramatically reduces fighting and the noise it causes. Neutered feral cats also roam much less and become less visible and less prone to injury from cars. Foul odors are greatly reduced as well because neutered male cats no longer produce testosterone which, when they are unaltered, mixes with their urine and causes the strong, pungent smell of their spraying. When the colony is then monitored by a caretaker who removes and/or TNRs any newly arrived cats, the population stabilizes and gradually declines over time.
- To educate the public and all local governments about all issues related to Yuma's feral cat population.
- To examine, research and identify what other localities, cities and agencies are doing in order to humanely address the issue of feral cat overpopulation.
- To seek funding in order to train and educate the public and to implement humane TNR (trap neuter release) programs throughout Yuma.
- To explore the procedures needed to create and implement laws that address any crimes related to the dumping of animals in the desert, rural or urban locations.
Humane TNR Practices
- All traps are to be labeled with the trapper or caretakers name, phone number and trapping location. All surgeries need to be scheduled before you trap the cats.
- Cat Traps should always be covered; this reduces stress and keeps all organic matter contained preventing the transfer of any contagious illnesses.
- Make sure that there are no anthills near the traps and please place only one cat per trap.
- Cats should be given 24 hours to recover and fed before being released.
- Do not attempt to hold the cats, if a bite occurs we are required by law to quarantine the animal for 10 days.
- Traps need to be thoroughly disinfected between each use. You will need a brush to scrub, bleach and water. Use a 1:10 ratio. For a 1:10 dilution, you should add 1 cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water. Or ¼ cup to 32 oz. of water.
Remember that bleach can burn. You should avoid exposing yourself and the cats to the fumes, and people should wear gloves and masks. Also, be sure there is adequate ventilation when using it.
- Every cat will be sterilized, given a rabies vaccine & FVRCP, ear tip (on left ear), extended release pain medication (lasts for 3 days) and medication if injury/illness is life threatening. Additional vaccines, medication and microchips can be administered upon request.
- Please update your catstats.org/yuma account after returning your cat to its home.
*Once you sign up and register your colony with the link above, you will be placed on the waiting list. A Humane Society of Yuma staff member will then contact you, via email, WHEN a surgery spot is available.