What is the difference between a ‘Community Cat’ and a “Stray Cat”?

“Community Cats” is a term used to describe outdoor, unowned, free-roaming cats. These cats could be friendly, feral, adults, kittens, healthy, sick, fixed and/or not fixed. They may or may not have a caregiver. These cats also may have 1 or more people in the community who feed and watch over them but are not household pets. This definition, the only outdoor free-roaming cats who are not community cats are those who have an owner. Community cats are cats that may be social or unsocial, but cannot be traced back to any one owner.

Strays are cats who were once owned and have become lost or separated from their owners at some point in time.  Stray cats are domestic cats that have been abandoned or have wandered from home.

Feral cats are cats who lack handling and socialization, feral is not a disposition. A lot of aggressive behaviors associated with feral cats are not due to lack of socialization. These behaviors are due to the hormones in cat’s that have not been spayed/neutered.

What is a ‘colony’?

A colony is a group of cats who share a common resource, such as food or territory. These colonies typically originate from unaltered wild cats, but may also include strays that were recently lost or abandoned.

Why ‘Trap/Remove’ Doesn’t Work

Removing community cats opens up the territory to new cats, either from neighboring areas or their offspring. Each time cats are removed, the population will rebound through a natural phenomenon known as the vacuum effect, leading the community into a costly and endless cycle of trapping.

Trap, Neuter, Return is the humane approach to addressing community cat populations.

Trap, Neuter, Return is the humane and successful approach to addressing community cat populations. It saves cats’ lives and is effective in slowly diminishing population numbers, by preventing the vacuum effect. TNR not only stops the breeding cycle, but allows community cats to continue protecting their established territories. TNR allows for peaceful coexistence between cats and humans in a shared environment.

Colonies can be managed by community members who trap and sterilize cats in a specific area. In this program, community cats are humanely trapped, brought to a veterinarian to be spayed or neutered, vaccinated, eartipped (the universal sign that a cat has been sterilized), and then returned to their outdoor home.

Want to take helping community cats further?

  1. SPOT a wandering cat
  2. Look for kittens and/or neighboring wandering cats around
  3. Are they meowing for attention? It may be a friendly cat who has lost its way. Consider asking your neighbors if they know who the cat belongs to.
  4. Do any of them have tips or notches on their ears? If so, they have already been sterilized and may have a caretaker.
  5. Find out where they eat, and what time of day—this is where you’ll want to trap.
  6. Approach the feeder and inquire about which cats have already been sterilized or if you can help.
  7. If no one feeder is observed, consider how many untipped (unsterilized) cats are present and whether you can work TNR into your schedule.

Once you’ve made the decision to participate in the management of the community cat population in your area, visit www.neighborhoodcats.org for some helpful trapping tips and tricks and call (808) 877-3680 ext. 230 for guidance and support from our Community Cat Coordinator!

With your help, we can ensure that ALL of Maui’s cats are humanely treated.

Here’s how we can help:

Trap Loan Program

Community members are welcome to borrow small, medium, or large traps for one week’s time to humanely capture community cats for spay and neuter. Trap loan is free, with refundable deposit and confirmed surgery appointment.

Spay/Neuter Surgeries

Spay/neuter surgery for trapped community cats is offered free of charge with an appointment. Surgeries include a microchip and ear tip so that the community cat is permanently identified as sterilized. 

4EverPets

4EverPets is a community resource to assist low-income families and individuals of Maui, as well as those experiencing financial hardship, who need help caring for their beloved pets. Our goal is to help provide the resources needed in order to prevent people from having to surrender their pets to the shelter and allow their animal companions to remain in a loving home. Check out our 4EverPets page to learn more!

5 Easy Steps for Humanely Deterring Cats:

  1. Talk to your neighbors. Determine whether the cat is a pet, stray, or community cat, and if he has been neutered. If not, get it done!
  2. Apply nontoxic deterrents around your yard:
  1. Line the yard with fragrances or herbs that will naturally repel the cats.
  2. Block gaps in the foundation of all sheds and outbuildings.
  3. Move feeding stations away from property.
  4. Use a car cover.
  5. Read this PDF on Deterring Cats

Dumping cats is illegal and punishable. If you see someone dumping cats, please notify our HEO’s by submitting an animal abandonment/displacement report online.

(5) For the purposes of this section, “desert” means to leave without the intent to return. [L 2016, c 165, §2] [§143-2.6] Animal desertion. It shall be unlawful for the owner of any animal or any person in possession of an animal that belongs to another person to leave the animal without the intention of returning to it. Any person who violates this section shall be guilty of a petty misdemeanor. [L 1992, c 223, §1] Harming the cat’s in any way is considered cruelty to animals a harsher punishable offense.

§711-1108.5 Cruelty to animals in the first degree. (1) A person commits the offense of cruelty to animals in the first degree if the person intentionally or knowingly: (a) Tortures, mutilates, or poisons or causes the torture, mutilation, or poisoning of any pet animal or equine animal resulting in serious bodily injury or death of the pet animal or equine animal; or (b) Kills or attempts to kill any pet animal belonging to another person, without first obtaining legal authority or the consent of the pet animal’s owner.

Report an Animal Abandonment/Displacement Incident Online

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