Cats At Your Door?
What To Do About Them

The woman on the phone was frantic, “you’ve got to help me with these cats” she cried. As she related her story, it was clear that she cared about animals and wanted to do the humane thing, but the problem with the cats around her home was out of control and she didn’t know who to turn to.

Paws Cause frequently gets calls like this from people who just want to “get rid of these cats!" We understand the frustration that can be caused by stray cats, but we also know the implications associated with "getting rid” of cats which are usually neither humane nor effective.

Most folks don’t know what “get rid of” means and probably don’t want to know. They hope the cats are rounded up, taken to Animal Services in SLO where they are adopted to a loving family. That’s a nice dream but the reality is much harsher.

If you want to capture a cat you have to do it yourself or contact one of the few private organizations that can help you, since there is no official trapping service in the county. Furthermore, all the humane societies and animal shelters in the county are perennially full and are unlikely to accept any adult cat, especially one that’s feral. Finally, if you can get the cat to Animal Services and it’s not tame and can’t be easily handled, it will be kept in a cage for a few days per their policy and then killed.

But what makes these efforts particularly pointless is that they probably won’t solve your problem. Even if you remove all the cats from your area, it is very possible that this vacuum will be filled by new cats migrating into the area or people dumping more cats there.

There is, however, an alternative to rounding up and killing cats. Today many communities are implementing humane, cost-effective programs to trap, neuter, and return (TNR) cats. These programs are more than just a process of neutering cats and releasing them back to where they were caught. They are on-going, comprehensive, animal management campaigns that include the following activities:

The final monitoring activity is critical to the success of the program, however it is often not carried out. Without keeping track of how the cats are doing and what changes are occurring in the colony, the cat population can easily grow out of control again or a sick cat can infect the community creating both human and animal health risks.

By maintaining a healthy and stable cat community, the lives of the cats are improved. Neutered males don’t have to defend their territories or fight over mates and females don’t have to go through the trauma of birth and fending for their young multiple times a year. And neighborhoods are made safer and healthier by reducing the number of unvaccinated cats and costs are lowered by reducing animal shelter admissions and the number of nuisance calls to the local animal control department.