“Community cats” is an umbrella term for unowned cats that are living outside in your neighborhood. These cats can be a mix of feral, un-socialized and wild cats, or it can include strays, cats that have been socialized with people at some point, but are now living outside. Community cats have a wide range of behaviors and degrees of socialization, but generally most do not want to live indoors and have adapted to life outside. Community cat caretakers are residents that provide food and potentially shelter for these community cats to help with their survival and care while living outdoors. Ultimately to help limit the population of future community cats, community cat caretakers trap the cats, schedule spay or neuter services, and return the cats to their natural habitat where they have been accustomed to living. During surgery, the tip of the cat’s ear is surgically removed to indicate that this community cat has been spayed/neutered. Our Companions offers a TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) program to the public and provide free training, traps, resources, and much more, to assist in controlling the increasing population of community cats. When a colony of cats have all been spayed or neutered, they’re considered a managed colony since they can no longer populate.
Typically lasting between the months of April and October, kitten season refers to the time period where female cats are usually giving birth to a litter of kittens; though this can certainly happen all year long. A cat’s gestation period is two months and it can be difficult to tell a pregnancy until the belly begins to swell. If you see a pregnant cat, the safest possible solution would be to trap the cat and provide a confined space indoors to give birth. Providing a long-term foster situation for a community cat is important, but easy to do! After designating an enclosed room for the set-up, like a garage or basement, you’ll have a large crate where the cat will reside. You do not want to have the cat loose in the entire room since the cat will run and hide. The crate can be lined with newspaper, include a cat carrier with a towel or blanket inside, a litter pan, and the food/water dishes just to the edge of the crate’s door for easy access. A sheet or blanket can be draped over the crate to provide further security for the mother.
Once the mother gives birth and raises her kittens, the mom can be spayed and returned while the kittens can have the opportunity to be socialized, vetted, and adopted out. There is the option to not trap the pregnant cat and provide a shelter outdoors to all the mother to give birth, then trap the family when the litter is old enough. However, the morality rate for kittens is quite high and trapping an entire family can be a difficult task, but can still be done. If you do see a litter of kittens outside, it’s important that they are old enough where they can be separated from the mother. It’s best to catch the kittens first before the mother, that way the kittens outside aren’t left alone without their mom. Providing an outdoor shelter for the family is also easy to do and will help create a safe, central habitat while the mother is nursing. If you’re handling kittens too young to be separated from their mother, having kitten milk replacement (KMR) formula on hand will be helpful if you don’t trap the mother right away. Click here for an easy reference chart to determine the age of kittens and when they can be separated from their mother.
Providing care for pregnant community cats not only helps limit the population of outdoor cats, it also helps provide an opportunity for kittens to be socialized to thrive inside with great families. There is also the possibility of the pregnant cat being a friendly stray and having the opportunity to live off the streets and back with people once again. Our Companions provides a wealth of information, resources, and tools to give you the chance in helping these cats in need. For more information about our community cat program, please click here! If you have any questions, or have seen cats in your community needing assistance, please contact our Helpline at 860-242-9999 or email [email protected]