Community cats (aka stray or free-roaming cats) are felines who prefer to live outdoors rather than in homes.

These cats are often brought to shelters by well-intentioned people, but because community cats are not used to living with humans, they are unlikely to be adopted, which means most of them don’t leave shelters alive.

They are among the most at-risk animals when they end up in shelters, but community cat programs are helping to bring change, and you can be a part of it. 

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Community cats are at risk 

For every dog killed in a shelter, more than two cats meet the same fate, and most of them are community cats. 

Community cats can be found just about everywhere that people live. Many of these outdoor, free-roaming cats are cared for by community members, hence the term “community cats.”  

For decades, community cats have been trapped and killed in a failed attempt at population management. When community cats end up in shelters, they are at high risk of not making it out alive, since they aren’t socialized to people and prefer to live outdoors, sometimes with other cats. 

Where cats need your help:

NM: Protect cats in Doña Ana County »

NJ: Help New Jersey's community cats »

TX: Support Baytown community cats »

Community cat programs are saving cats’ lives 

Across the country, community cat programs are implementing the trap-neuter-vaccinate-return (TNVR) method of lifesaving.

Through TNVR, cats are vaccinated, spayed or neutered, and returned to their outdoor homes.  

Targeted TNVR is the most humane and effective way to reduce community cat populations while saving cats’ lives. This proven approach ensures that cats in the community won’t have more kittens, which means fewer cats over time and fewer cats entering shelters.  

TNVR also comes with a public health benefit, since TNVR ensures that the cats are vaccinated against diseases that could be spread to humans or pets. Other benefits include improving the health of the cats and minimizing nuisance cat behaviors like spraying, fighting, howling and roaming. 

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With your help, Best Friends works with local and state governments to remove legislation that limits the effectiveness of TNVR efforts.



Together, we’re saving the lives of community cats 

Best Friends is working with shelters nationwide to save the lives of cats through TNVR programs. These shelters are reducing the number of cats killed in their facilities at 12 times the rate of other shelters. 

With your help, Best Friends works with local and state governments to remove legislation that limits the effectiveness of TNVR efforts.

We're giving shelters the resources and tools they need to set up and operate their own successful TNVR programs, providing resources to community cat caregivers and other community members to help manage the stray cats in their communities, and sharing information with people about the importance of TNVR.  

Our nationwide team of grassroots advocates, called the 2025 Action Team, is made up of dedicated and passionate people like you. Start or join a campaign to help advocate for TNVR in your community.

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When it comes to saving community cats, we could use your help caring for them.

Caring for cats near you »



Be an effective advocate for community cats 

Not sure where to start? We’ve put together some resources so you can learn more about community cats and how to help them.