Community Cats

Cats don’t belong in shelters.  And these days, most shelters agree.
If you’re like a lot of people, your first instinct when you find a cat in need is to call animal control or perhaps rush the cat to your local animal shelter. Doing either of these things may put the cat’s life in danger. When community (stray and feral) cats are brought into Oconee County Animal Control, the cat and kittens older than 12 weeks will most likely be euthanized because community cats are generally not socialized to people and are unadoptable. Kittens less than 12 weeks must be healthy in order to be placed in fosters homes until they are spayed/neutered and ready for adoption.

Community cats are domestic cats—the same species as pet cats, Felis Catus. The difference is that community cats are unowned and generally not socialized to people, so they cannot be adopted. But community cats are not homeless. They have a home: the outdoors.

The best way you can help community cats is through Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR)
. TNR ensures no new kittens are born, stabilizes cat populations, provides vaccines, and improves cats’ lives. It also stops the behaviors and stresses associated with mating such as yowling, spraying, and fighting. Community cats are picked up by Oconee Animal Control because they are often a nuisance to neighbors. Oconee County has a “leash law” in place that states that all animals must be under the control of the pet owner at all times. Dogs must be in yards with fences or on a leash when being walked. It’s impractical to “leash” cats, so cats must be kept indoors or contained on the pet owner’s property somehow. 

If a cat is found wandering the streets or in a neighbor’s backyard, it is often considered a stray or feral cat. It is either surrendered to Animal Control by the person who found it or Animal Control traps it in response to a complaint. Since most cats exhibit signs of extreme distress when put in a cage (scratching, biting, hissing), some lost or stray cats are mistakenly categorized as feral and are never given an opportunity to be adopted. If the cat has a microchip, then Animal Control will attempt to notify the pet owner. This is why it’s so important to microchip your pets!!

Trap-Neuter-Return is Mainstream

TNR is practiced across the United States and all over the world. It’s considered best practice and is good public policy. TNR is supported by all credible animal protection organizations including the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), the National Animal Care and Control Association (NACA), as well as hundreds of TNR groups nationwide, and the countless individuals who carry out grassroots TNR programs.

What Is Trap-Neuter-Return?

Trap-Neuter-Return is the only humane and effective approach to manage community cat
populations. Here are the basic steps to this lifesaving process:
1. Trap: Humanely trap all the cats in a colony. A colony is a group of cats living outdoors together.
2. Neuter (or spay): Take the cats in their traps to a veterinarian or clinic to be neutered, vaccinated,
and ear-tipped (the universal symbol of a neutered and vaccinated cat).
3. Return: After the cats recover, return them to their outdoor home where they were trapped.

OHS Trap-Neuter-Return Program for Caregivers of Cat Colonies
Due to the limited number of vets in the area, it is difficult to establish a large TNR effort at this time. However, OHS knows there are compassionate, selfless caregivers of cat community colonies that we would like to help to the best of our ability:

  1.  Food – OHS can provide food (when available) to help caregivers feed the colony

  2.  Spay/Neuter Certificates – If you can trap the cat and can bring it to a vet, then OHS can provide low/cost free spay/neuter certificates. OHS encourages you to return the cat to where it came from after you get it spayed/neutered. If kittens are less than 12 weeks old, then they should be left with the mother cat until they are old enough to be spayed/neutered and returned to the colony.

  3.  Outdoor Shelters – for community cats to get protection from the weather

  4. Resources and Information - to keep your cat colonies under control.

  5. TNR Services – if you are a caregiver of a cat colony and are interested in getting TN  assistance, contact Chris Piper at She will need to know approximately how many cats are in the colony and will help trap, take cats to the vet for spay/neuter and return them to the colony.

Please contact Chris Piper at if you are a caregiver of a cat colony and are interested in these services or if you have questions. In order to verify the validity of requests and establish the best plan to help the cats, we’ll schedule a site visit to the cat colony and talk/coordinate with the caregiver.  Please contact by email only as Chris is an OHS volunteer and needs flexible time to respond. 

Source: Alley Cat Allies

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