Caring for community cats

Often misunderstood and needlessly maligned, community cats comprise a significant percentage of the animals being killed in America’s shelters.

Community cats are unowned, free-roaming cats who live and thrive outdoors, rather than indoors as pets. Best Friends Animal Society and other organizations use the term “community cat” because these animals are part of the community in which they live and are valued and often cared for by community residents.

Trap-neuter-vaccinate-return: what it is and why it works

Evidence collected over the last two decades has confirmed that the archaic practice of rounding up outdoor cats and taking them to the shelter to be killed is not only inhumane, it’s ineffective in controlling community cat populations.

A community cat program is a comprehensive set of programming and services designed to humanely and effectively reduce the number of cats entering animal shelters over time. These programs are customized to meet the specific needs of individual communities and are always anchored by a method called trap-neuter-vaccinate-return (TNVR). 

With TNVR, community cats are humanely trapped, spayed or neutered, vaccinated and then returned to the outdoor location where they were living. 

Best Friends in Utah runs successful community cat program partnerships with six of Utah’s largest shelters: Salt Lake County Animal Services, West Valley City Animal Services, Tooele City Animal Services, West Jordan Animal Shelter, Davis County Animal Services and Weber County Animal Services. 

These programs are beneficial because they result in fewer cats entering and burdening shelters, create a sustainable reduction in the outdoor cat population, provide public health protection through cat vaccinations, result in taxpayer savings (taxpayer money no longer used to round up and kill cats), and help create safe, humane communities for people and animals.

Community cat services offered for Utah residents

Best Friends in Utah provides a variety of services for community members in Salt Lake City and throughout the rest of the state.

We offer spay/neuter vouchers to support counties most in need, trap loans for humanely trapping community cats, resources for resolving cat-related issues in neighborhoods, winter cat shelters for keeping cats safe during colder months, and a pet food pantry for qualifying residents.

Please email for more information or read our Community Cat FAQs.  

We loan humane traps, provide outdoor cat shelters, and provide food assistance by appointment through our Lifesaving Center at 2005 South 1100 East in Salt Lake City.

If you need a trap outside the Salt Lake City area, check our Trap Post list to see if cat traps are available closer to your location.

For help with stray cats in your neighborhood, contact a program near you:

Best Friends in Utah (Northern Utah)
Salt Lake City, Utah
801-432-2124, ext. 2413 or 2420

Southern Utah Community Cat Program
Southern Utah and Northern Arizona
Free-roaming stray cat assistance form

We have working cats available!

Working cats prefer to live on their own rather than inside a home, so they are ideal residents for stables, barns, backyards, breweries and warehouses.

Fees are waived for these cats, who are available in groups of three or more to people with a safe, suitable place for the animals to live. All cats are healthy, vaccinated and sterilized. Caregiver responsibilities include providing food and water daily, shelter and veterinary care. 

If you are interested in having working cats placed on your property, or if you or someone you know would like to help a group of cats, please complete the online application.

Working cats can thrive in all kinds of locations, including barns, retail stores, warehouses, breweries, distilleries and residential properties. Check out our video series about working cats on YouTube, highlighting these cats living in a variety of locations. 

Cat with a tipped ear looking out from under a shrub

Shop to Save Lives

You can donate lifesaving supplies for cats in Utah by visiting our Amazon Charity Wish List.

Community cat support

Are you in need of spay and neuter support for stray and free-roaming cats in your neighborhood?

There are several options. You can find a spay/neuter program in Utah near you, call your local shelter to see if it participates in a trap-neuter-vaccinate-return program, and network with other advocates through Facebook groups, and other social media. 

If you're caring for 10 or more community cats, you may qualify for assistance through Best Friends. Support is available on a case-by-case basis and is dependent on the cats’ location. Best Friends focuses on the areas where shelter lifesaving challenges are greatest. If you are caring for fewer than 10 cats, you may request a discount community cat rate for use at participating clinics.  

Ear tipped cat in a field in Utah




Want to become an expert on all things community cats?

Check out out Best Friends’ community cat resource page, our community cats infographic and the Best Friends Community Cat Programs Handbook




Curious about community cat caregivers? Meet them here.