Community Cat Management
Community cats are a result of people not spaying and neutering their cats. Any unaltered cats left outside contribute to this widespread problem. Community cats can be friendly or feral, the latter meaning they are not socialized to humans due to years/generations of fending for themselves with little human contact. Cats without owners usually band together in a location with food and water sources. A group of such cats is called a colony.
Managing cat colonies and assuring all felines are spayed or neutered is the only way to humanely reduce the population of community cats while providing appropriate care. Trap/neuter/release (TNR) is the only humane and scientifically proven way of stemming overpopulation in cats, and it should be done as early as possible. Cats can begin to have kittens at 4 months old. Spaying and neutering not only stems reproduction, but it also results in a better quality of life. For female cats, it virtually eradicates mammary tumors; and for male cats it stops the fighting which leads to wounds and infections.
Relocating or killing community cats is not only inhumane–it will not remove any perceived nuisance problem. Community cats have been maligned regarding the killing of birds. This is inaccurate as city structures–such as building and windows–are indeed a larger source of avian deaths. Attempts to relocate or kill cat colonies for perceived nuisance issues, whether it is the killing of birds or other factors, does not reduce the number of community cats. If a colony is removed, the vacuum effect comes into play. The vacuum effect is a natural phenomenon based on scientific and anecdotal evidence showing removal of any species of animal, cats included, opens up the habitat for a new influx of the same animal to come in from the periphery as long as resources are available. Habitats support a certain number of animals; and when some of these animals are removed, the habitat will quickly be filled again.
Community Cat Ordinances are a way for a community to partner in caring for and reducing the number of community cats. Local government entities partner with community cat providers and rescue groups to identify resources for colonies; and through TNR efforts, community cat numbers are reduced.