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Cats roam outside in most neighborhoods in the United States. Some are pets whose owners let (or put) them outside, but many are community cats, who may be feral or one-time pets who are now stray, lost or abandoned. The more we understand outdoor cats and the complicated issues related to them, the...


Shelter, food, and water are especially important to outdoor cats--feral and stray--in the cold of winter. Follow our advice on building the best kind of shelter and keeping food and water from freezing. Also, to TNR or not to TNR? We'll answer that question.


Contents Intro Owned cats Unowned cats Cats in shelters Cats and wildlife Collaboration/humane communities Conclusion Intro Cats are the most popular companion animal in the U.S., with more than 86 million of them living in nearly 39 million American households. Tens of millions more unowned cats...


Cats are more than just internet stars; they bring joy and companionship to millions of people.

Cat walking on tree limb within a safe catio enclosure

Every now and then, on nice days, Krista Rakovan would let her cats onto the back deck for some supervised sunbathing. She watched how much Julius, Ginger and Kobe loved lying in the sun—the only time they were permitted outside—and she thought about how she could add more variety to their lives. “I...

By Catherine Hess
Orange cat lounging in a garden

Most of the time, Tux is a good-natured, well-behaved cat, content with his indoor- only lifestyle. But whenever he looks out a window and spies a strange cat in his yard, a different side emerges. He races in circles, yowling his displeasure. He mangles window blinds and sometimes attacks his...

Danielle Bays

You may think that cats have to go outside to be happy. But cats would disagree with you (and so would local birds!) Actually, close to two-thirds of owned cats live indoors either exclusively or for a majority of the time. Cats can live a happy and healthy life indoors with their families. Allowing...

Feral cats sitting together by a food bowl

Beth McNulty was used to seeing the occasional cat cross her property. In her rural community in Monrovia, Maryland, some of her neighbors let their pet cats roam free. And from time to time, a stray would show up and take shelter in her backyard shed. Over the years, she’d adopted two of these...

Julie Falconer

Understand how you can help outdoor cats If you've encountered a cat outdoors, you've probably wondered whom the cat belonged to or if they even had an owner. Outdoor cats are sometimes owned cats whose owner lets them out. Often, however, they are community cats—ferals or strays. You can help these...


With a mission to protect all animals, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) stands on common ground with those who care about both cats and wildlife. With determination, innovation and collaboration, we can implement and sustain effective programs to humanely resolve human-cat-wildlife...

Four neighborhood cats at feeding time

As the first morning visitors to the National Zoo stroll through the entrance, two field technicians with backpacks head in the opposite direction, over Rock Creek, across a parkway carrying commuters into downtown Washington, D.C., and up a steep, muddy hillside. Leaving runners and dog walkers in...

Karen E. Lange
Portrait of a pretty cat outside with a tipped ear

Loree O’Hagan’s new home in Great Cacapon, West Virginia, came with four bedrooms, a wrap-around deck, a view of the mountains—and a family of feral cats. That last detail wasn’t mentioned in the seller’s disclosure report, but O’Hagan and her husband got an inkling on moving day, when they spotted...

by Julie Falconer

When we think of “aggression,” we may think of a variety of motivations and impulses deriving from our own experience as humans. Fortunately, aggression in cats is easier to make sense of and typically derives from two impulses: fear and mistrust. These are the most likely scenarios to cause fear...


DC Cat Count, a collaboration between animal welfare organizations and wildlife scientists, was launched today in an effort to identify the number of cats in the Washington, DC region. This program will ultimately develop humane, data-driven cat population management programs in communities across...

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