February 20, 2015
How Organizations Can Help Community Cats
Tips for local animal advocacy groups who want to help stray and feral cats
Whether you are a large shelter, a private nonprofit, a municipal agency or a small volunteer rescue, there are ways to help your area’s outdoor cats, whether they are community cats (feral and stray) or cats whose owners allow them outside.
We in the animal welfare community have a duty to these animals. And it is only by caring for and managing community cats that we can make progress in reducing the cat overpopulation problem that has such a great impact the work of anyone concerned with cat welfare.
Find funding to help cats
Often your good work is hampered by a lack of money. Go to Animal Sheltering online for information on groups that offer financial assistance as well as a collection of articles on grant writing and fundraising ideas.
Bring on volunteers to help the cats
There aren't enough hours in the day when it comes to helping community cats. Volunteers can assist you in many ways. The HSUS can teach you how to recruit and retain volunteers.
Learn—and perhaps improve—the laws about cats
The number of organizations devoted to helping community (feral and stray) cats is growing. As a result, some local governments now recognize that a comprehensive strategy to manage cat overpopulation requires them to work with cat advocates.
However, municipalities often have limitations and ways of doing things that advocates from the private sector might not be aware of. Collaborative efforts rely on mutual understanding and respect.
Learn how to work with your municipalities and elected officials to make progress for cats. Check out our Managing Community Cats: A Guide for Municipal Leaders, which you can download for free. Published in 2015 and endorsed by the International City/County Management Association, this guide is designed to help communities find long-lasting, nonlethal solutions to conflicts involving community (feral and stray) cats.
If the laws in your municipality don’t facilitate helping cats, work with your local officials to improve the laws. For help with ordinances and law changes, please email us at email@example.com.
If you're ready to do some research on your own, start here:
- Check out our Talking TNR article [PDF]
- Learn how to be a grassroots lobbyist for cats [PDF]
- Watch our video on the feral cat crisis and the Trap-Neuter-Return solution
Educate the community about cat care
Reach out to cat owners. An important source of community cats is the population of unsterilized owned cats who are allowed outside. You can help reduce the number of cats who roam outdoors by providing educational material to adopters and community members, about the benefits of keeping their cats indoors, and the importance of spaying and neutering and the need to put collars and visible ID on their cats. (Read more about the care essentials for owned cats.)
Spread the word about Trap-Neuter-Return to cat caretakers. People with big hearts often provide food to community cats. Unfortunately, they may not realize the importance of spaying and neutering. They may not even know that there's anyone who can help them. You can tell them about TNR and help them find organizations that can assist them.
The HSUS has information in English [PDF] and Spanish [PDF] that you can distribute to the media and at events, libraries, veterinary clinics, feed stores, pet supply stores etc. If you want to grab people’s attention, our "i am not a crazy cat lady" flyer [PDF] is sure to be noticed.
If you find that you’re preaching to the choir and having difficulty reaching those who haven’t already been clued in about the issue, The HSUS can help you change your tactics. Our Pets for Life program is focused on spreading the humane message to underserved communities. Our Pets for Life Toolkit will show you how to become a great force for change in your community!
Build a library of outdoor cat resources
Need to dig deeper and widen your scope? Try these resources:
- Community Approaches to Feral Cats [PDF]
- Implementing a Community TNR Program [PDF]
- Managing Community Cats: A Guide for Municipal Leaders [PDF or print]
- PetSmart Charities Community TNR: Tactics and Tools
- The HSUS’s animalshelteringonline.org website, where you'll find sample flyers, liability waivers and PowerPoint presentations
If you need more resources, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get in touch with The HSUS
We want to promote your good work and connect you with other people in your area who care about outdoor cats. If you're not on our list of organizations and agencies that help community cats, let us know at email@example.com.