An effective way for communities to partner in caring and reducing community cats
At a minimum community cat ordinances allow for trap/neuter/return (TNR) in a community. TNR is the only humane and scientifically-proven way of stemming cat overpopulation and should be done as early as possible. Attempts to remove and/or kill cat colonies for perceived nuisance issues, whether it is the killing of birds or other problems, does not reduce the number of community cats. If you remove a colony, the vacuum effect comes into play. The vacuum effect is a natural phenomenon based on scientific and anecdotal evidence whereby removing 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. When animals are removed from a habitat with resources, the habitat will be quickly filled again with those same animals.
At the most, community cat ordinances create collaborative, community-wide programs that will ultimately reduce cat overpopulation, minimizes neighborhood nuisances, and save lives.
These community-wide collaboratives often include government and private shelters, humane enforcement, TNR groups, and individuals that step up to become community cat managers.
OAA highly recommends the approach that Fort Wayne, Indiana, or Cook County, Illinois have taken in establishing Community Cat programs to address their feral cat population and improve public safety. These Community Cat programs delineate the responsibilities of a person who provides food, water, shelter, or otherwise cares for community cats and satisfy the municipalities administrative rules. Any person feeding or providing any level of care to free-roaming cats is required to follow the guidelines listed, with the ultimate goal of achieving a population of spayed/neutered community cats who have been vaccinated against. Under these ordinances, any person who feeds the cats without adhering to the rules may be subject to enforcement action. The rules were created to humanely prevent neighborhood nuisances and to improve public safety. These ordinances can be found by choosing the information button on OAA’s Community Cats homepage.
A community cat manager is generally defined as a person who provides food, water, shelter, and otherwise cares for community cats following the guidelines outlined in a municipality’s ordinance. Persons feeding and providing any level of care to community cats follow the guidelines with the ultimate goal of achieving a population of spayed/neutered community cats that will not reproduce. Community cat managers work in partnership with government and non-profit agencies to obtain surgical sterilization, ear tipping, and vaccinations; follow feeding, watering and shelter guidelines; and assist in resolving nuisance complaints.
Additional ordinances, including two recent Ohio ordinances (Mentor and Sebring) can also be found by choosing the information button on OAA’s Community Cats homepage, along with many other resources to assist communities in passing humane community cat ordinances.