Relocating or killing community cats is inhumane. 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/return (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. OAA suggests kittens be spayed/neutered by five months (if medically appropriate) as recommended by the Feline Fix by Five campaign.
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.
Ohio Animal Advocates is actively working with Ohio communities to help community cats by:
- Partnering with Together Initiative to host a statewide virtual Community Cat Summit on 11/5/22, to examine current community cat resources in Ohio and beyond, with an interactive session to brainstorm on how to alleviate resource deserts and scarcities. You can view it here
- Identifying Ohio’s Community Cat Resource – A State of the State Report 2023. Produced by OAA and Together Initiative, this report created Ohio’s first comprehensive listing of community cat resources, including both spay/neuter and trap/neuter/return (TNR) services, by county (report). The report also identified Ohio’s TNR deserts which will provide the opportunity for OAA and Together Initiative to identify partners and resources to help fill these geographic gaps in service for Ohio’s community cats
- Partnering with Together Initiative hosted a statewide virtual Community Cat Summit on 10/9/21, with keynote speaker Sterling Davis the TrapKing, and you can view it here
- Community Cats: A Guide for Busy Ohio Municipal Leaders. Produced by OAA and Together Initiative, this guide is an excellent resource for advocates to use when working with local policymakers to pass ordinances on community cat management, feeding, and trap/neuter/return
- Partnering with United Spay Alliance (USA) to host the Ohio Spay/Neuter Connection and promote the Feline Fix by Five Campaign
- Partnering with the Ohio Department of Commerce and trailer park managers to humanely address community cat populations
- Working with Ohio communities to pass community cat ordinances at the local level