San Diego Humane Society works to improve the lives of free roaming cats in our community and reduce the unnecessary euthanasia of healthy, unsocialized cats who are not suitable for adoption.
TNR is the process of humanely trapping community cats to have them spayed or neutered, vaccinated and returned back to their outdoor homes where they can thrive. SDHS offers free spay/neuter, vaccinations (FVRCP and rabies) and ear-tipping for feral cats at each of our campuses. Additional services such as microchipping are available upon request for an additional cost.
Rent a Trap
A small inventory of humane traps are available to rent for a deposit of $65, which is fully refunded upon return of the traps within seven days. To rent a humane trap, you must have an appointment for spay/neuter (free of charge) of the community cat and be willing to return the cat to her outdoor home.
Contact San Diego Humane Society for more information or to schedule an appointment.
What is a Community Cat?
A community cat is an outdoor cat who may or may not be social with people and who often lives in a colony of other cats. They may be unsocial or friendly, may have been born into the wild, or may be lost/abandoned pets. Stray or free-roaming cats who are friendly and would do well in a home are made available for adoption. Unsocial cats who will not allow you to approach or handle them are not appropriate or happy as pets; these cats are sterilized, ear-tipped, vaccinated and released in the same outdoor location where they were found. In colonies, cats can survive on their own, but are better off if they have a regular caretaker, which includes ensuring that all of the cats in the colony are spayed or neutered.
How to Determine Community Cat from a Stray Cat
A stray cat is a domesticated cat who is lost or abandoned. Stray cats are usually tame and accustomed to contact with people. They typically seek out human contact and exhibit behaviors such as meowing or purring. Stray cats will also often try to make a home near humans, in car garages, front porches or backyards. A stray cat who has only been coming around for a few days should be given the opportunity to find her way back to her owner; it is best not to feed or trap her during this time. In contrast, unsocial cats are notably quiet and keep their distance from people, are more likely to live in a colony and more likely to be nocturnal.
General differences in appearance and behavior include:
- May approach people.
- Will likely be alone.
- May promptly approach food.
- May be vocal.
- May have a collar or other identification.
- May be seen at all hours of the day.
- Will not have an ear tip.
Unsocialized community cat:
- Will not approach and will avoid people.
- May live in a colony.
- Will wait until you move away before approaching food.
- Will be silent.
- Unneutered males may have a big head and thick neck.
- Usually nocturnal.
- Will have an ear tip if altered as part of a TNR program.
Why not trap and remove all the cats?
Simply removing cats from an area opens up an ecological void that allows more cats to fill and a new cycle of reproduction will begin. When cats from colonies are sterilized and monitored by a caretaker, the cat population will stabilize and gradually decline over time, which is the ultimate goal of TNR. Euthanasia of healthy community cats is not a humane option.
What happens if a community cat cannot be returned to where she was trapped?
Relocation removes community cats from their familiar homes and puts them somewhere unfamiliar, leaving them stressed and disoriented. They are typically attached to the other cats in their colonies, deeply rooted to their outdoor homes, knowing the best pathways, the coziest places to sleep and where they can find food and water. Successful relocation requires a careful procedure. If the community cat is not in danger in her current environment, it is most beneficial to return them to their outdoor home.
SDHS’s Wild at Heart program exists to help the cats who are not able to be released back to their outdoor homes and those who are not accustomed to living in and indoor environment.
Do outdoor cats kill birds and wildlife?
Although community cats often hunt to survive, TNR reduces the impact on birds and wildlife by gradually decreasing the cat population over time.
What if wildlife are trapped in my cat traps?
Wild animals, such as raccoons, opossums and skunks will be attracted to humane traps set up for cats. If you accidentally trap a wild animal, it is your responsibility to release them in the same location where they were trapped. It is not humane to remove or relocate wild animals. In some cases, it is illegal to do so. For further questions regarding wildlife, please call our Project Wildlife program at 619-225-WILD (9453).