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Caring for Stray and Feral Cats – A Quick Guide

All across the world, people are caring for stray and feral cats. Caring for an outdoor cat colony has tremendous benefits to caregivers, neighbors, and the cats. While cats have been living outdoors near humans in the United States for centuries and can survive on their own, there are steps you can take to improve their well-being, make them good neighbors, and help them co-exist with people living nearby.

Five Basic Steps to Care For Stray and Feral Cat Colonies

  1. Conduct Trap-Neuter-Return for all cats.

    The number one priority when discovering an individual cat or a colony of cats is to safely and humanely trap them and see that they are neutered and vaccinated. This ensures that the cats will live longer, healthier lives. Females will not get pregnant or need to nurse, and male cats will not fight or prowl for mates.

    We recommend that you create a plan for the adoption of socialized cats, perhaps working with a local organization. Kittens and cats who are friendly to humans can be adopted into homes. Use our Trap-Neuter-Return guide for complete instructions.

  2. Provide food and water.

    Many people choose to provide food and water for the cats on a regular basis, year-round. If possible, feed on a regular schedule and remove uneaten food within 30 minutes. Food that sits out may attract insects and wildlife. Read more tips on feeding.

  3. Provide shelter.

    You might want to provide shelter for the cats. It can protect them from the elements and help you deter them from neighbors’ properties. Need more guidance? Use our photos and instructions for building shelters.

  4. Monitor the colony and keep accurate records.

    Keep track of all colony members, their health, new cats that might enter the colony, and your ongoing Trap-Neuter-Return effort. Monitor the cats and keep their medical records on file. These records will be useful for reference in the future. Use Alley Cat Allies’ colony tracking sheet.

  5. Help cats and people co-exist.

    As the colony caregiver, you become the cats’ public relations firm and can help maintain their good image and good neighbor status in your community. If neighbors do not know who “speaks for the cats,” they may contact the city with their concerns. Maintain good relations with neighbors by establishing a friendly dialogue and readily addressing their concerns through the use of humane cat deterrents and education. Make sure that residents know you are open to their feedback about the cats. Alley Cat Allies provides a number of useful tips.

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