Resources for Caring for Community Cats

Seeing outoor cats in your neighborhood? Outdoor cats fall into one of three categories:

  • Owned cats who are allowed outside
  • Friendly strays who were abandoned or are lost pets
  • Feral/wild cats (A feral cat is a cat who was born on the streets and grew up with little or no human contact. They are usually silent, will not approach people and are usually seen only from dusk to dawn.) 

Download: Identifying Stray Cats; Identifying Fixed Pets (PDF)

Community Cat Frequently Asked Questions

How long is a cat's gestation period?

      • 65 days (~9 weeks). Cats can up to five litters per year, with kitten season ranging from March to November. 

How often does a cat go into heat?

      • As often as every two weeks! Kittens can go into heat as young as four months old.

At what age can a cat get pregnant?

      • As soon as they go into heat (as young a four months), and can have kittens around only six months old.

How old does a kitten need to get spayed/neutered?

      • Kittens need to weigh at least 2 pounds to fixed! This happens around 8-10 weeks of age. 

When do male cats start spraying, and why?

      • Around six months old (when they are sexually mature). Spraying can happen for a number of reasons, but the most common reason is to mark their territory to deter other males cats and to attract females. It can also happen when a cat feels threatened or unsafe.

How do I use a live trap?

      • There are a lot of videos online on how to use a humane live trap (like this one), or follow one of these guides from Tomahawk: Humane Live Trap or Drop Trap 

Why doesn't Humane Ohio accept walk-in appointments?

      • Unfortunately there is a national veterinarian shortage and veterinary clinics across the country are struggling to meet the demands of animal caretakers everywhere. Humane Ohio has two full-time veterinarians who complete an average of 80 spay/neuter surgeries a day. 
      • Animal care and safety is our number one priority, and taking in unlimited numbers of cats does not allow us to provide a safe, comfortable place for the cats or provide the diligent care we pride ourselves on. Please be understanding of the rules so that we can continue to serve as many cats as possible.


New to the TNR process? Checkout our Guideline for Community Cats

What should I do?

If the cat is friendly, take him to a veterinarian to scan for a microchip and try to find the owner in case he's a lost pet. If no owner is found, try to place the cat in a home by using social media and reaching out to friends, family and co-workers. You can also try to place the cat with a rescue group, although most groups work from a waiting list.

Feral cats are generally euthanized when taken to a shelter because they are not considered adoptable. Many animal shelters lack volunteers and resources to bottle-feed and socialize kittens, making them at high risk for euthanasia, too. 

If you cannot find a home or a rescue group for the friendly cat and must leave him outside, or if the cat is feral, the most effective and humane approach is Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR).

For more information, checkout these resources from our friends at Alley Cat Allies and ASPCA

Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR)

The safest place for pet cats is indoors, but the only environment suitable for feral cats is outside.

Trap-Neuter-Return humanely reduces the number of outdoor community cats by preventing new litters. Cats are trapped, spayed/neutered, ear-tipped and returned to the area where they were found. Cats are territorial animals and form strong bonds with the location they call home. Humane Ohio does NOT recommend relocation; it should only be done under extreme circumstances when the cats' lives are in danger. Moving a colony of feral cats - and convincing them to stay - is a complex process.

How to Schedule - 1

Ear-tipping is a visual way to identify outdoor community cats that have been spayed or neutered. It's a standard practice used nationwide.

Removing or killing cats doesn't work. When you remove cats from their outdoor homes, new cats on the outskirts will move in because whatever drew the cats there originally has not changed (garbage cans, dumpsters, shelter). We've received calls from communities asking us for help after they removed cats and saw the numbers return after a year.

How You Can Help

  • Have outdoor community cats fixed at Humane Ohio. Our staff can walk you through the TNR process.
  • Borrow an easy-to-use humane live trap from us.
  • Provide food, water and shelter. You can purchase a winter cat shelter at Humane Ohio or make your own. (Instructions at:
  • Monitor the colony and bring in any new cats into Humane Ohio to be fixed.