What’s the Big Deal about Free-Roaming Cats?

December 26, 2014

Trap/Neuter/Return programs are popping up in communities across the nation to help control their feral and free-roaming cat populations. Some feral colonies have caretakers – people who provide food and shelter – and others may complain about them providing these necessities, creating strife between neighbors. Trap/Neuter/Return efforts, such as our Port Orchard Community Cats program, can help ease these tensions. Free-roaming cat colonies can impact the neighborhood with nuisance behaviors, such as spraying, fighting, and yowling. Pet cat owners may be concerned about their own cats being injured in fights or contracting feline diseases from the feral residents, or being enticed to leave home by females in heat. Fortunately, all of these nuisance issues can be drastically reduced by Trap/Neuter/Return programs which spay and neuter feral cats, provide vaccinations, and return the cats to live out their lives in their outdoor colonies. This is because most of these nuisances are related to mating behaviors. When the cats are fixed, the behaviors stop. Feral colony caretakers, concerned about the health and well-being of the cats they care for, should also be eager to take advantage of TNR efforts like our Community Cats free spay/neuter program in Port Orchard. Not only does fixing the cats improve the cats’ health, encourage weight gain, and reduce injuries and illnesses from territorial fighting, but it also prevents the outdoor births of more litters of unwanted kittens (many of which will die from exposure to the elements or predators before they mature). In addition, over time, the number of cats in the colony will be reduced through natural attrition, which means that more food and shelter are available for those remaining. Un-owned outdoor cats produce the vast majority of the 80 million kittens born in the U.S. each year. On average, only about 2 percent of free-roaming cats are spayed or neutered. Help us increase that percentage, reducing our county’s outdoor cat population and the problems associated with them. If you know of any free-roaming cats living in your community, call (360) 536-2668 or email us at communitycats@kitsap-humane.org.