Community cats are generally not interested in living indoors like the domesticated felines we have curled up on our sofas, napping the day away. They are cats who prefer an outdoor lifestyle and have figured out how to survive and, more often than not, thrive. Their reaction to humans can vary from friendly and social (reliant on food they're receiving from one or more neighbors in the area) to elusive or fearful (preferring a life without human contact - typically called feral cats).
Community cats that have been spayed or neutered are easily identifiable by an ear tip (clipping the tip of their ear) so neighbors quickly can recognize a cat that has been altered and is getting along on their own.
Cold Weather Safety and Community Cats
When caring for community cats, it’s important to keep them in mind when winter weather approaches. However, it’s also important to remember that community cats are extremely resourceful. But there are some ways you can make the season a little safer and warmer for these resilient outdoor felines.
Click for more information about cold weather safety for community cats.
Managing Community Cats
If you have cats on your property who don't have someone caring for them, you may consider taking steps to manage their influence.
Ask Your Neighbors
Before taking any action, ask around! You may have one (or many) neighbors caring for the cats. This will ensure you don't make unnecessary calls to animal control or trap a cat being cared for by your neighbor. If the cats are a nuisance, have a conversation with your neighbor about managing their problematic behavior.
Trapping Unaltered Cats
It's important to make sure that the cats are spayed and neutered by doing what is called Trap-Neuter-Release (TNR). This will ensure that the cats are healthy, sterilized and vaccinated. HSSW does not have traps to lend or rent. Traps are often available at your local hardware store. You'll also want to make sure you've made plans with a vet before you've trapped. Contact your local vet or a service like Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon or Spay & Save to help.
Once you start the trapping process, it is recommended to not stop until you have successfully caught all the cats in the colony. This will ensure population control, colony health and will make it easier later to identify a new cat coming into the colony.
Providing Shelter for a Colony
Community cats bring may benefits to the area - a well managed colony of cats control the rodent population and keep other cats from moving in on their territory. After trapping, you may decide that you don't want to remove the cats from your property. Colonies also benefit the cats as they are generally not suitable for adoption to a family home.
It is important to provide a shelter appropriate to the size of the colony. Even though some cats like to socialize, many prefer their own space. Shelters should be just big enough for up to five cats and multiple structures is best. For more populated colonies, go with multiple shelters of a larger size. Check out some great information about creating a shelter.
Your shelter is only limited by your imagination! The most important thing is the type of material you put inside the structures. The interior must stay dry, so avoid using folded newspaper, towels or blankets as they can hold moisture and drastically reduce the cat’s body temperature. You can use straw or shredded paper so cats stay dry and allow the cat to burrow for extra warmth.
HSSW has limited capacity to provide spay/neuter services to unowned cats in our community. If you need assistance with spaying or neutering a feral or community cat, contact the Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon. Their services are for feral, stray, and barn cats and are donation-based. They serve Oregon and Southwest Washington.
feralcats.com or 503.797.2606
Deterring Cats from Your Property
While many cats found roaming are harmless, we also understand they are not always welcome. If you want to discourage cats from visiting your home or property:
- If you’re feeding them, stop. When food sources become unavailable, cats will move on. There are other non-lethal deterrents that may be implemented purchased to help keep them off your property.
- Put out fragrances that keep cats away. Scatter fresh orange or lemon peels. Wet coffee grounds—which you may be able to get for free from coffee houses and fast food chains—and metal pans filled with vinegar also deter cats.
- If cats are getting into your trash, secure your trash can with a tight lid or bungee cords. This will protect your trash from wildlife as well.
- Install an ultrasonic deterrent or a motion-activated sprinkler. You can also find humane deterrent products at garden supply stores.
- If cats are using a building or covered space on your property for shelter, block the area so they are unable to enter. Using chicken wire or lattice is typically an effective deterrent, but this should be done only if you are certain no cats or kittens are inside.
Find more information on these and other methods from Ally Cat Allies.
Questions? Contact us:
360.213.2621 or [email protected]