The Feral Cat Warriors Community Cats program is dedicated to improving the lives of feral and stray cats throughout Mohave County and curtailing the inessential euthanizing of healthy cats that can’t be adopted. Cats with no owners and living in the community are referred to as community cats; these felines can be either wild or tame and can be born outdoors, strays, or abandoned by their owners. Cats that could thrive in a home setting and have a pleasant disposition can be adopted or included in our adoption preparation programs. For cats not suitable for domestication, they are spayed/neutered, vaccinated, have their ears tagged, and returned to where they were originally found.
What is a Community Cat?
The phrase “community cat” is used to describe domesticated cats that exist outside and appear to have no owner. These cats may react to humans in different ways, from being scared and unapproachable to cordial and accepting. In the past, they were referred to as “feral cats” or “alley cats,” though since they may not always dwell in alleys or be truly feral, the term of choice in animal welfare has become “community cats.”
Where do Community Cats Live?
In both densely populated places and more rural settings, community cats are commonly seen living near human settlements. Usually, the local citizens become familiar with them and consider them to be part of their environment. They are often found in single households, couples or in groups. It is extremely rare to find cats living in isolated areas in America without any human assistance.
It is estimated that around 10-12% of the American population looks after community cats. These individuals provide the cats with meals, water, and a shelter when the weather is bad. They also make sure the cats receive medical attention if they are sick or injured. Moreover, they are involved in TNR activities to get the cats spayed/neutered and vaccinated, and work with other citizens to deal with any issues that may arise due to the presence of the cats. Even though these cats are generally referred to as “feral” (having escaped from domestication and returned to a wild state), the majority depend on humans for care.
The United States currently has an estimated 30-40 million community cats, many of whom have been living outside for generations, while others have been lost or abandoned and have adapted to living outdoors. Without spay/neuter programs, such as TNR, the number of cats in a given area can rapidly increase due to the fact that female cats can become pregnant as early as five months old and have multiple litters in one year. In fact, these cats are responsible for around 80% of the kittens born in the U.S. each year. If proactive steps are not taken to mitigate this population growth, animal shelters will become increasingly overcrowded and more cats will be put down, wasting donor and taxpayer dollars in the process.
Will the Shelter take Community Cats?
The majority of community cats are not in need of a rescue; they have outdoor shelters and individuals who provide for them. Taking in such cats can lead to overcrowding in shelters and, consequently, a greater rate of euthanasia due to cats becoming ill. Fortunately, shelters and rescues step in to get these cats spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and help support the people who look after them. Nobody wants the latter to happen.
Ideally, kittens should be put into adoption programs once they have been weaned. It is important to expose them to humans by the time they are nine weeks old if one wants to prevent them from developing a fear of humans. There are many community cat programs that involve foster homes that socialize kittens born outdoors, making them suitable for adoption into families. If you want to be part of the solution, consider volunteering to be a foster home.
Mohave County Animal Shelter: Feral Cat Information
Can’t Community Cats be humanely euthanized?
A lot of folks are compassionate towards cats living outdoors, believing it’s better than putting them down. In reality, these adult cats are usually in good shape and can handle themselves. However, some people are bothered by their actions and just want them gone without considering the consequences. Conversely, the majority of people don’t believe euthanasia is the right solution.
No matter what, overpopulation is not solved by removing cats from their location. When cats are taken away, more cats from other areas may come in to utilize the resources that were left behind. The process of reproducing and causing trouble will start all over again. Animal control agencies typically do not have the capability to take away enough cats to reduce the population. Additionally, they lack the means and are less likely to remove cats that are unlikely to be adopted. It is also challenging to convince the cats to enter the traps when they are supported by the community members who feed them.
TNR combined with the involvement of a caretaker or multiple caretakers is a more effective solution. Neutered or spayed cats have better health, as they don’t waste energy competing for mates or raising kittens, and their problematic behaviors are reduced or completely stopped. Looking after the cats’ needs, such as food, water, and a safe environment, and monitoring their wellness are the duties of the caregivers.
How do we solve the overpopulation problem?
Addressing the issue of excessive cats is a complicated task that requires a two-pronged approach. On one hand, the existing cat population should be humanely decreased and on the other, new cats should be prevented from joining them. Unfortunately, there is no easy solution and multiple methods must be employed to solve the problem:
- The implementation of a strategic, high-intensity Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program, along with other related initiatives, is necessary to spay and neuter community cats. To successfully diminish the population, around 80% of the cats in the targeted area must be TNR’d.
- Cats should be spayed and neutered when they reach 5 months of age and before they have the capacity to reproduce. This applies to both cats that are owned and those that are adopted from shelters or rescues.
- When dealing with behavioral issues in cats and financial problems as well as housing difficulties, offering aid to people in order for them to keep their cats is a priority.
- Giving people the opportunity to find new homes for cats they are unable to keep so they do not end up being left outside.
- Providing cats with a safe space to explore outdoors can be achieved by having an enclosed cat patio, or catio, or by taking them for a stroll on a leash.