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Community Cat Program

The Harris County Community Cat Program (CCP) is a FREE and humane program designed to effectively reduce the number of cats living on our streets.   Community cats are free-roaming and feral cats (or community cats) that live in our communities and make their homes wherever they can find shelter. This includes friendly adult stray cats, kittens, and indoor/outdoor cats. Approximately 5 of every 10 cats brought to an animal shelter are free-roaming, "community cats". It is important to understand that most community cat candidates are not socialized to people and therefore, are not eligible for adoption programs.

Our purpose is to provide a service to the residents of unincorporated Harris County to identify, educate, and establish relationships for the purpose of growing the program. We also want to develop a mutual understanding of its benefits to the cats, our facility, and the community as a whole. Our challenge is to identify potential CCP candidates while in our care and identify those communities that need our help.  

The Shelter, Neuter, and Return (SNR) process consist of sterilizing (spay/neuter), vaccinating, and then returning the cat to the community from which it was found. Ultimately, our goal is to keep these CCP candidates from entering our facility in the first place through coordinated Trap, Neuter, and Return (TNR) efforts. The goal of the TNR program is to reduce the number of free-roaming cats, eliminate the number of kittens, mating behaviors, and fighting between the cats.

The Vacuum Effect - Why Catch and Kill Does Not Work

Removing cats from an area by killing or relocating them is not only cruel—it’s pointless. Scientific evidence indicates that removing feral cat populations only opens up the habitat to an influx of new cats, either from neighboring territories or born from survivors. Each time cats are removed, the population will rebound through a natural phenomenon known as the “vacuum effect,” drawing the community into a costly, endless cycle of trapping and killing.

The vacuum effect is a phenomenon scientifically recognized worldwide, across all types of animal species. Source: alleycat.org

Trap-Neuter-Return stabilizes feral cat populations. The cats are humanely trapped, vaccinated, and neutered/spayed, so no more kittens will be born. They are then returned to their original location to live out their lives in their outdoor home. Not only is Trap-Neuter-Return the humane option for feral cats, but it also improves cats’ lives by relieving them of the stresses of mating and pregnancy. In the end, unlike catch and kill, TNR works.

To contact a member of our Community Cat Program, please email Meagan King at:  communitycats@countypets.com