There are millions of outdoor cats in America; some are pets allowed outside by their owners, but most outdoor cats are what we call community cats—friendly strays and feral felines who are fearful of people and not suited to life indoors. These cats are supported by millions of compassionate people who provide the food, shelter and veterinary care these cats need to survive. The HSUS estimates that there are 30-40 million community cats in the United States.
Community cats are the most significant source of cat overpopulation in this country. The Humane Society of the United States advocates nonlethal strategies to manage community cat populations, including a tactic known as Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR). Community cats who have been sterilized and vaccinated through a TNR program can be identified by their ear-tip—about a quarter inch at the top of one ear is removed at the time the cat is spayed or neutered so that one ear will appear flat instead of pointed when seen at a distance.
Without TNR, community cats continue to reproduce, overwhelming their human neighbors as well as the local animal shelters and rescue groups that are already caring for large numbers of cats. Our work focuses on clearing legal barriers to TNR, promoting best practices for TNR and providing training and resources for those groups and individuals working on the ground to help community cats.