Engaging Key Stakeholders

By their very nature, CCPs are collaborative efforts. To be effective, a program must have some degree of buy-in from a range of key stakeholders in the community, including these:

  • Elected or appointed officials overseeing animal services in the community
  • Shelter staff and volunteers
  • Field services and dispatch staff
  • Partner veterinary clinics
  • Local TNR and rescue groups
  • Caregivers and colony managers
  • Donors and other funding sources (e.g., nonprofit organizations offering grants)
  • The general public

In each of these categories, it’s easy to imagine securing support from like-minded individuals. Keep in mind, though, that not everybody will look on the CCP favorably. Some veterinary clinics, for example, might see low- or no-cost veterinary services as a threat to their livelihood (though there’s no evidence that this is the case). And, of course, the general public includes residents who complain about the cats. Remember, engagement means having honest, good-faith conversations, not necessarily convincing others to adopt your position on the issue. What’s most important is to be able to proceed with a clear understanding of key stakeholders’ concerns.

“It’s critical to engage key stakeholders, ones that you see as potential allies and collaborators, as well as those who may oppose the project. Either way, it is important to know the interests and issues of key stakeholders in order to garner support, address concerns or, if necessary, combat threats to the project.”

-Holly Sizemore, chief national programs officer, Best Friends Animal Society

The 28 chapters that make up the CCP Handbook fall into three sections, as follows:




Note: Any resource of this scope is necessarily a work in progress — a living document. Unlike printed documents, though, its online format allows for frequent revisions and updates, thereby extending its “shelf life” significantly.

Additional resources


Much of our knowledge of CCPs has been acquired through the aforementioned Community Cats Projects, and we are deeply indebted to PetSmart Charities, Inc.,™ for the opportunity to participate in these innovative public-private partnerships in communities across the country. We owe an additional debt of gratitude to the elected officials, shelter and enforcement leadership, veterinary partners, staff and volunteers, and everybody else whose tireless efforts have made these programs successful beyond all expectations.

In addition, the following individuals and organizations have been invaluable resources in making the CCP Handbook a reality, allowing us to benefit from their experiences and integrate their materials with our own. Thank you all!

  • Alley Cat Allies
  • Animal Defense League of Arizona
  • Sherrie Buzby Photography
  • Christopher Crews (photos)
  • FixNation
  • Fix Our Ferals
  • Street Cat H.U.B
  • Karen Hollish, development director, Pima Animal Care Center
  • Kate Hurley, director of the Koret Shelter Medicine Program at the University of California, Davis
  • IndyFeral and the Foundation Against Companion-Animal Euthanasia
  • Julie Levy, Maddie’s Professor of Shelter Medicine and founder of Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida
  • Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals
  • Neighborhood Cats
  • Recycled Love
  • San Antonio Animal Care Services

Download the Community Cat Programs Handbook Basics (862 KB PDF)