Trap-Neuter-Return, not Trap-Neuter-Adopt
It happens to the best of us–we see a beautiful cat outside and imagine it curled up and purring at the foot of our beds. But the fact of the matter is most community cats don’t want you to try to turn them into pampered lap cats, and they don’t need to be “saved.” In fact, what someone with good intentions thinks of as a “rescue” could even lead to the death of a cat who was happy and healthy outdoors. We all want what’s best for the cats, and that means keeping them out of shelters where they will most likely be killed.
The Best Way to Rescue Feral Cats
If you’re feeling skeptical about this, it’s helpful to think about how long cats have been living outdoors. Think way, way back! Cats have been living outdoors alongside people for many thousands of years, so they’ve gotten pretty good at it. Being outside isn’t a mistake or a tragedy, it’s simply the way of life for community cats.
Community cats aren’t homeless—their home is outdoors, where it’s very possible that a community cat has spent her whole life. She’s formed strong bonds with her home turf and the other cats in her colony. This means that even if you’ve become close with her—even if you’ve fed her regularly for years and she lets you pet her—she still doesn’t belong in a home.
You’ve probably heard stories about a feral cat who was brought indoors and eventually “tamed.” It’s true, these instances exist, but it took years of work and an incredible amount of time—resources that could have been spent carrying out Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) for hundreds of cats. And for every story of a successfully socialized adult feral cat, we hear 20 stories that went a different way: a feral cat who is miserable and unmanageable after being brought inside; a caregiver who adopted out a community cat she thought was friendly enough, only to hear that the adopters brought him to a shelter because he wasn’t a good pet; a well-meaning rescuer who doesn’t know what to do with the cats he brought indoors at three-months-old and was never able to socialize.
That’s why the real solution is to let cats live peacefully outdoors. You can improve the lives of community cats and ensure their health and safety, but that means Trap-Neuter-Return, not Trap-Neuter-Adopt.