For most of history, cats have lived outdoors; kitty litter wasn’t invented until 1947!
HSHV provides a host of programs and services for community cats.
Community Cat Program Success
- Over 11,000 cats have been sterilized through HSHV’s TNR Program since 2007
- The number of stray and abandoned kittens coming into our shelter has dropped 36% since HSHV started a TNR program
- See a map of areas HSHV’s Community Cat Program has performed TNR service
To determine if a cat is simply a visiting community cat from the neighborhood or a lost or abandoned stray cat, monitor the cat for a few days.
If the cat is clean and healthy, it is likely a community cat just visiting. You may notice that the cat already has an ear tip on its left ear, indicating it has been sterilized through a TNR program. If the cat is friendly, you can place a collar on the cat’s neck with a note asking the owners to notify you if this is their cat. This way, an owned cat does not mistakenly get taken to HSHV. Community cats often have one or more caretakers feeding and looking out for them, and they may be friendly, unsocial, or feral. Always use caution when approaching any animal.
If, on the other hand, the cat starts to lose weight rapidly or looks increasingly disheveled, it is likely a lost or abandoned pet. You may choose to bring the cat inside or to HSHV. In either scenario, signs should be posted in the neighborhood regarding a found cat, and a found report made to HSHV.
|Feral Cat||Stray Cat|
|Silent except when mating and may hiss||Meows|
|Only seen at dawn and dusk to hunt||Seen at all times of the day and night|
|Will eat food only after humans have retreated from the feeding area||Will eat near humans|
|Can never be touched||May be touched or held at times or may rub against legs|
|If cornered, will hiss, spit or fight||If cornered, will try to hide|
|May look clean and healthy because they have adapted to living outside||May look dirty and unkept because they do not live their entire life outside|
|May have an ear tip if they have already been through the TNR process||They may or may not be fixed|
|No collar or microchip||Might have a collar|
Relocating feral or community cats to a new outdoor location can take a long time and is often unsuccessful. Cats tend to be territorial; in familiar territory, they know where to get food, find shelter, and avoid danger. Moving outdoor cats to a new location makes them very uneasy, so they will try to get back to the place they know.
Removing outdoor cats can also create a vacuum effect, as the remaining food and resources attract other cats, and they continue to breed. Implementing Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR), on the other hand, prevents other cats from moving in, while decreasing the population and reducing nuisance behaviors.
Relocating a cat or colony should be the last resort, after all other options have been made to keep them in their current outdoor home. HSHV does not offer relocation services.
If you or someone you know is feeding feral cats in our community, we would like to talk to you. The goal of any community cat management program is to maximize the quality of life for these cats, to eliminate the existing colony over time through attrition, and to elevate the worth of community cats, and cats in general, through education and awareness. Please email [email protected] or call (734) 661-3523 to speak with our Community Cats Coordinator.
Help monitor Community Cats in Washtenaw County
You can help HSHV track and monitor feral cat colonies in Washtenaw County. None of your personal information will be shared and we do not publish specific addresses.