Care for Community Cats

Care for Community Cats

By: Judy Hamontre, AVHS Vice-chair

The Humane Society of the United States estimates there are 30 to 40 million “community” cats living throughout the U.S. Community cats are the feral cats and strays who have no human home.

Over the years a friend of mine has trapped-neutered-returned seven of these community adult cats, roaming in her neighborhood. Two cats relocated themselves, and two remained outdoors, usually in her backyard with one of them occasionally coming a few feet away from her but no closer.

Over time, the other three entered her house and stayed. The two males quickly adjusted to indoor life, playing, purring and socializing with humans. They even liked to be petted. The female got along well with the two males but did not like to be touched by humans. She would approach, purr and nap nearby but wanted no part of petting. None of the three had any desire to go back outside, even when tempted with an open door.

My friend surmised that the cats who remained outdoors were probably feral and the three who chose indoor life were possibly strays who had human contact earlier in their lives. All seven cats chose the life they wanted, and she allowed them to do so.

She knew feral cats are born outdoors, grow up outdoors, live outdoors, and fear humans. They are not nor can be socialized. She never traumatized them by trying to do so.

The outdoor cats who chose to become her pets made her believe they were strays, cats born indoors and living with humans until one day, they leave or get lost. If these cats live on their own only a short time without human contact, they might once again be socialized. If on their own too long, they cannot be socialized.

A completely unsocialized cat will: not vocalize (chirp or meow), not allow touch, flee and hide from an approaching person, keep her ears consistently back or flat, tightly wrap her tail around her, retain an arched or tense posture, swipe or lash out at people, dilate pupils, hiss, growl, howl, bristle fur, crouch or crawl, not relax around people, hide during the daytime, show no interest in household sounds.

Our nation’s “community” cats usually exhibit such behavior. The adults cannot be socialized and should not be captured and dropped off at a shelter to be socialized.

Kittens are a different story. Eight to ten week olds can probably be socialized. For those over two to three months, socialization becomes more challenging.

The Humane Society of the United State’s advice is to utilize local cat rescue resources and practice Trap-Neuter-Return. TNR ensures community cats are not impounded in shelters, but instead spayed or neutered and allowed to thrive in their outdoor homes.

In Chaffee County if you have such “community” cats in your neighborhood, contact the Ark-Valley Humane Society to participate in their TNR program. It provides no cost spay/neuter and vaccinations for free-roaming/feral cats living in Chaffee County. AVHS will provide you information and even rents out humane traps if needed.

Care for your “community” cats and allow them to survive and thrive in the style they choose by contacting:  or call (719) 395-2737.

Adoptable cat Peggy is pictured here


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