Community Cat Program

What is a community cat?

Any free-roaming cat seen outdoors could be considered a community cat. Some may have owners that allow them to wander outdoors, but many appear to be un-owned, either stray or feral. Some community cats are friendly, but truly feral cats are unable to adjust to living indoors.

Benefits to the community

  • Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) is the most effective way to reduce the number of cats living outdoors
  • These altered cats do not multiply and over time the population is reduced due to natural attrition
  • Outdoor cats provide natural rodent control
  • The overall local cat population is healthier
  • Cats are vaccinated against rabies
  • Spay/neuter reduces nuisance complaints such as fighting, smelly urine, and unwanted kittens
  • TNR saves taxpayer money by preventing animal control efforts.

How shelters benefit

  • Animal Control resources are able to focus on animals in immediate danger or need, not diverted to collecting healthy cats.
  • Returning community cats to their outdoor homes, lets resources (time, effort, and money) be spent on pets that truly need help.
  • Owned cats that spend time outdoors are not accidentally added to the shelter population.

How you can help?
Call or email us to get more information about the Community Cats Program, 704-494-7717, or

  • If you have questions about our TNR program or need in-person instruction about how our traps work contact HSC Community Cats Manager, Leah Massey, or stop by the shelter Monday, Wednesdays, or Thursdays from 11 am – 1 pm to speak with her directly.  If you do not require in-person instruction, please stop by our shelter during our normal business hours to borrow traps. Outside of the scheduled hours, staff will be able to loan traps, but will not have the time/ability to discuss trapping in detail.
  • Before attempting to trap, check for an ear-tip. Community Cats that have already been spayed or neutered are likely to be ear-tipped and do not need to be caught a second time.

Scheduling for Surgery

Please view our Community Cat TNR Surgery Calendar to see which days you can bring in up to two trapped cats to our clinic at 2646 Toomey Avenue (no appointment needed).

December 2021 TNR Surgery Calendar

Due to a lack of supplemental funding, our Spay/Neuter Clinic will begin charging $20 for every Trap-Neuter-Return surgery for community cats as of Monday, October 4th. The Humane Society of Charlotte considers TNR to be a vital service we offer our community and will continue to offer TNR surgeries at a reduced rate.

Tips for caretakers

  • Keep feeding area clean
  • Provide only as much food as cats can eat at one sitting
  • Remove trash, food, and bowls within 30 minutes
  • Be respectful of neighbors
  • Communicate your efforts to your neighbors – they may be willing to help
  • Track & monitor your colony for new members or sign/symptoms of serious illness

Humane Deterrents

If you are frustrated with community cats or problems stemming from them, we can help! Contact our Community Cat Programs Manager to find out which effective deterrents will work for your situation. Many deterrents are free or low-cost. Options vary according to the complaint. For example, cats digging in a garden are often humanely stopped with leftover coffee grounds because cats do not like the scent of coffee.

Some humane deterrents, such as motion-activated sprinklers or audible devices, are available for loan from Charlotte Mecklenburg Animal Care and Control at 8315 Byrum Drive, Charlotte, NC 28217. You can also purchase similar devices from online retailers such as Amazon.