How to Problem Solve with Neighbors
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1. Start a Trap-Neuter-Return program.
Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) is your first and best tool for caring for the cats and addressing neighbors’ concerns. Neutering all of the neighborhood cats resolves the most common concerns like mating, yowling, and spraying, and it ends the breeding cycle and improves the cats’ health. Visit your neighbors to tell them that you’re doing TNR and that if they have any concerns, they can come to you. You may even find others to help you!
New to TNR? Find out everything you need to know.
2. Keep accurate records.
Knowing how many cats you care for and how many are neutered will help organize your TNR efforts and prepare you for discussing the colony with neighbors. Use our tracking sheet to guide you.
3. Host an informal TNR workshop.
Invite the neighbors, offer refreshments, and explain how TNR benefits the community and how to carry out TNR. It’s a great way to find volunteers to help—and it’s a great way for everyone to get to know each other, too. Find all the tools you need to conduct a workshop, including videos and handouts.
If the neighbors’ concerns escalate to threats, take the following actions.
1. Meet with your neighbors in person.
Set up a time to talk about their concerns. Even if you feel that your neighbors are being unreasonable, it’s important to talk to them in person. Listen closely and find out what cat behaviors are bothering them. Are the cats digging? Leaving paw prints? Don’t take “I just don’t like cats” for an answer—find the real problem and offer to fix it. Get more meeting tips.
2. Reach a compromise.
Offer effective bargaining chips like TNR, colony care, and humane deterrents, depending on neighbors’ concerns. Be sure not to offer bargaining chips that usually backfire, like relocation or cat sanctuaries, and don’t make promises of things you can’t deliver. Once you’ve found an acceptable compromise, get the agreement in writing. Learn more about negotiating and deterrent and repellant options.
3. Know your local laws and procedures.
Protect yourself and the cats by learning more about your community’s animal control policies and other laws that affect cats and caregivers. Learn about your legal rights in case you are approached by animal control in relation to your position caring for cats.
Find out which shelter cats are brought to when they are trapped in your neighborhood and learn the rules for claiming them from impoundment. Find resources for looking up your city’s ordinances.
4. Connect with local cat-friendly groups.
You’re not alone! Get help and support through Alley Cat Allies’ Feral Friends Network. We’ll help you find other organizations in your area that care about feral cats and may be able to mediate disputes and advise you on TNR. Consider becoming a Feral Friends Network member yourself to help more cats and caregivers.
5. Get neighbors on board.
Educate your neighbors about feral cats and the fact that they are killed in shelters, then tell them how TNR saves cats’ lives and helps the whole community. Establish yourself as the contact person for the cats by going door to door handing out truth cards that answer common questions. Find these and more about community relations.
6. Make your community more cat-friendly.
Connect with neighbors, veterinarians, animal shelters, and local businesses to promote policies and practices that protect the cats. Get tips on how to engage the community and even start your own TNR organization at.
7. Keep up a dialogue with neighbors.
Check in with your neighbors to make sure that the deterrents you provided or other solution you implemented are working for them. TNR is a long-term program, so be sure to continue to educate new neighbors about it as they move in.