Under Ohio law, there is no one
agency responsible for handling free-roaming cats. As a result,
cats are often left to roam the streets and breed.
These cats multiple quickly and can exhibit bad behaviors associated with mating like yowling, fighting and spraying. Some
of theses cats are owned and some are not. But when they
breed, they make more unwanted cats.
The cat problem is threefold:
Owned cats are allowed to roam outside and mate.
Domesticated cats have been abandoned or lost and reproduce; their litters grow up on the streets as feral/wild cats who are not socialized to humans and do their best to keep their distance from people.
Feral/wild cats live together in colonies and breed. A feral cat is a cat that was born on the streets and grew-up with little or no human contact. Feral cats are usually silent; they will not approach humans and are usually only seen from dusk to dawn.
These outside cats can lead
to complaint calls to police, city officials and non-profit
animal welfare groups. More often than not, the no-kill
shelters are full and don't have room to take in friendly cats. Feral cats and kittens are euthanized when taken to a shelter because they are not considered adoptable and shelters are not equipped to house wild animals. This means there is nowhere to turn for a humane solution that doesn't end the cats' lives; this leads to more frustrations and complaint calls. What's the most effective and humane answer? Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR)!
What is Trap-Neuter-Return(TNR)?
Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) is a proven and humane solution to the free-roaming cat population. Cats are humanely trapped, spayed/neutered and returned to the area where they were found. Many have volunteer caregivers who provide food, water and shelter and who monitor the colony for newcomers or injured cats.
Cats are territorial animals and form strong bonds with the location they inhabit so they will be returned to where they were found after they recover from their spay/neuter surgery. Relocating free-roaming cats - and convincing them to stay in their new territory - is a difficult, time consuming and challenging undertaking. Trapping and killing does not solve the problem because of the "vacuum effect" - new cats will move in and take over the food source and resources - and trapping and killing is costly to taxpayers.
TNR has many advantages. It immediately stabilizes the size of the colony by preventing new litters. The nuisance behaviors associated with breeding - like yowling, fighting and spraying - are reduced or eliminated, and cats provide natural rodent control. TNR reduces the number of cats and kittens entering already overcrowded animal shelters. This results in lower euthanasia rates and the increased adoption of cats already in shelters.
What If I Find a Kitten(s)?
How you react when you find a homeless kitten could mean life or death. Taking home a stray or feral kitten isn't always the answer - for them or for you. Please see the Kitten Advisory Poster from Alley Cat Allies that will help you decide what is right depending on the age of the kittens.
How Can You Get Free-Roaming Cats Fixed?
Humane Ohio will spay/neuter free-roaming cats for anyone in Ohio or Michigan for $25 each. (Additional financial assistance may be available for large colonies; please call to discuss further before you bring cats in.) The service is FREE if you live in the 43605, 43609 or 43615 zip codes. Free-Roaming Cat Guidelines .
If you live outside of this area, please click here to find a spay/neuter program near you.
Click image for larger view.
Caring for Free-Roaming Cats in Their Outdoor Habitat
The key things you'll need to provide for your free-roaming cat colony are simple: food, fresh water, and a clean, sturdy shelter. An excellent tip sheet on long-term care is available from Alley Cat Allies.
Rubbermaid shelters are available for sale at Humane Ohio. On extremely cold nights in winter, you can provide a microwavable warming disk that keeps warm for up to 12 hours. Just wrap it in a small towel and push it under the straw. These disks are available online from Cozy Winters (800-340-1528), or from EntirelyPets (800-889-8967).
If you'd prefer to make your own shelter, view Alley Cat Allies information on building an inexpensive free-roaming cat shelter. Or view Spay and Stay's instructions for making a free-roaming cat shelter using a Rubbermaid container. Shelters should be lined with clean straw (not hay!) for insulation and to keep the inside dry. (Towels or rags become wet, musty or frozen in no time.)
Will Work for Food! Excellent Mousers Seek Permanent Positions!
Cats are territorial animals and form strong bonds with the location they inhabit, so relocation should only be done as a last resort when cats are in danger. Feral/wild cats cannot be adopted into a home environment and are euthanized immediately in animal shelters since they're not considered adoptable, so relocation is only possible when a safe, outdoor home like a barn, horse stable, greenhouse or warehouse is available.
Since cats are such territorial creatures, when they're relocated, they need time to adjust, become familiar with the sounds and smells of their new home, and realize it's their food source so they don't run when released. Confinement allows the cats to accept their new environment so they don't try to return to their former home; they will likely become lost in an unfamiliar area without a food source or be hit by a car. Upon arrival at the relocation site, feral cats must be confined in a secure hay loft, tack room or large dog crate for two to three weeks.
If you have a barn, horse stable, warehouse or greenhouse and are willing to accept feral cats who are spayed/neutered and vaccinated, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sign-up as a Trap-Neuter-Return volunteer and do TNR at your own convenience or as part of the Cattitude Team. Click here for more information.
Call us to borrow an easy to use humane trap and schedule a spay/neuter appointment if you are feeding a free-roaming cat(s).
Keep your owned cats indoors and bring them in to be fixed so they don't contribute to cat overpopulation.
Purchase a winter shelter at Humane Ohio or make your own.
Donate cat food to the Humane Ohio Pet Food Bank.
Join the Toledo Feral Friends Yahoo Group to communicate and network with others who are doing TNR.
Make a donation to the Dr. Kelly Rada "Spay It Forward" Memorial Fund to help cover spay/neuter and minor medical expenses for free-roaming cats.
Humane Ohio Fact Sheets
Free-Roaming (Friendly & Feral) Cats
Helping Neighbors and Free-Roaming Cats Co-Exist
Safe Relocation of Feral Cats
Tips for Deterring Cats from Yards