Why Community Cat Programs?

It’s estimated that nearly three-quarters of cats who enter our nation’s animal shelters each year don’t make it out alive. Most are free-roaming “community cats,” many of whom are not suitable for adoption into homes. This ineffective, costly and inhumane approach to managing community cats is steadily being replaced with progressive community cat programs (CCPs). These shelter-based programs, based on the trap-neuter-return (TNR) method of population management, are effective at reducing the numbers of these cats, reducing shelter admissions and shelter deaths, saving taxpayers money and providing a public health benefit to the community. In such programs, unowned, free-roaming cats deemed healthy enough to qualify for the program are sterilized, often vaccinated[1] and returned to their original location.

TNR has a strong basis in science and enjoys broad public support. Indeed, a national survey commissioned by Best Friends in 2014 found that Americans prefer TNR to lethal roundups by nearly three to one — not only for its obvious benefit to community cats but also for its benefit to public health.[2] These results correspond to those of previous surveys revealing strong opposition to the lethal roundups of community cats[3] and to lethal methods in general as a means of population control.[4]

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




[1] All of Best Friends’ CCPs vaccinate program cats with the FVRCP vaccine (the “distemper vaccine,” which protects against feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus and panleukopenia) and the rabies vaccine (even though rabies in cats is extremely rare). Considering the minimal costs involved (assuming the vaccines are purchased in bulk from the manufacturer) and the enormous public health benefit, this is a practice every CCP should consider.

[2] P.J. Wolf, 2015. “New Survey Reveals Widespread Support for Trap-Neuter-Return.” Faunalytics.org. https://faunalytics.org/new-survey-reveals-widespread-support-for-trap-neuter-return/

[3] K. Chu and W.M. Anderson, 2007. Law & Policy Brief: U.S. Public Opinion on Humane Treatment of Stray Cats. Alley Cat Allies: Bethesda, Md.

[4] R. Karpusiewicz, 2012. “Poll: Americans Favor No-Kill Animal Shelters.” AP-Petside.com. //ap-gfkpoll.com/featured/ap-petside-com-latest-poll-findings

Download the Community Cat Programs Handbook Basics (4.19 MB PDF)