Community Cats

woman standing in front of community cats van

The Animal Foundation’s Community Cats program can help you with unowned, free-roaming, and feral cat rescues.    

Among our most important lifesaving efforts are those that address the root causes of pet overpopulation. A prime example is Community Cats, a program launched in partnership with Best Friends Animal Society in 2015 to help control our large local cat population of free-roaming and feral cats, which is estimated to be over 200,000 in Clark County. An outdoor cat that is unowned and is either a free-roaming cat or a feral cat is considered a “community cat.” Community cats often live in groups called “cat colonies.” The Las Vegas area’s large community cat population can be attributed to a number of things including our warm climate that encourages year-round mating and a large transient population where people come and go, often leaving their pets behind. Although some community cats may tolerate some human contact, most are very fearful and cannot be adopted (as opposed to stray cats, who have owners but are lost or abandoned).

The mission of the Community Cats Program is to control the local cat population with no new litters or kittens. As a result, the homeless cat population will decrease, fewer feral cats will come to the shelter, and more lives will be saved.

FAQs About Free-Roaming and Feral Cat Rescue

Free-roaming and feral cats are trapped, brought to the shelter, spayed or neutered, vaccinated against rabies to prevent the spread of disease, ear-tipped for identification, then returned to the community from which they came. Kittens are typically young enough to adjust to domesticated life and be adopted. There is no charge to you for trap-neuter-release (TNR) services. Community Cats can help in different ways:

  • We meet with, provide step-by-step instructions, loan traps, provide food, and other supplies to people caring for cat colonies. If needed, we can pick up trapped cats.
  • We can send someone out from The Animal Foundation to set traps to safely capture, treat, and release the cats.

If you have knowledge of a homeless cat community or a homeless mother cat and/or kittens, please call us at 702.907.1867. 

Why return feral cats to the community? 

Feral cats do not make happy or suitable pets and generally cannot be put up for adoption. Humanely euthanizing feral cats does not solve the cat overpopulation problem. TNR stops the breeding cycle of cats, stabilizing the cat population.  Attempts to permanently remove cats from an area fail because of a natural and scientifically-documented phenomenon known as the “vacuum effect.” Simply put, whenever a cat or cats are removed from an area where there is a food source, new cats move in and/or the surviving cats continue to breed to capacity, doing nothing to diminish the feral cat population. The cats treated as part of the Community Cats program will be returned to their food source without the ability to reproduce.  This maintains a balance within the cat community and will lead to a decrease in the cat population over time.  It will significantly cut down on the number of cat euthanized and help us get closer to our mission of saving all healthy and treatable animals in the Las Vegas valley.

How do the cats survive once they’re released back into the community?

The Community Cats program returns healthy cats not suitable for adoption back into the community. If a cat is healthy, it has found food and shelter and will be able to continue to survive on its own. Negative behaviors like howling, marking territory, and fighting tend to stop or decrease after sterilization, making it safer for the cats. If the cat is healthy but for some reason is not a good candidate for return, they may become candidates for placement through our Working Cats program.

What is the impact of the Community Cats program?

Since the launch of our Community Cats program in June of 2015, The Animal Foundation has successfully spayed and neutered over 7,000 cats. To illustrate the impact of this, a conservative calculation estimates that an average female cat can have three litters with a total of 12 kittens per year (this number factors in survival/mortality rates) or 60 kittens in just five years! Kittens usually go into heat for the first time when they are four to six months old and, unlike humans, cats do not go through menopause and can give birth throughout their lifespan.

For more information on trapping and our FREE spay/neuter services for community cats, call our staff at 702-384-3333 x905.

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