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Community Cat Initiative

Lost_CatThe Humane Society of Greater Dayton's Community Cat Initiative is a catch-and-release spay/neuter program designed to reduce the number of outdoor cats humanely. Outdoor cats – collectively known as "community cats" – comprise unidentified stray (aloof to friendly) and feral (wild and unfriendly) cats. 

The Community Cat Initiative:

  • Is designed to reduce the number of free-roaming community cats humanely, through sterilization (spay/neuters), rather than by euthanasia.   
    • Why doesn't euthanasia work to control the population? It is a food-supply and numbers issue:
      • There are an estimated 85,000 free-roaming community cats in Montgomery County, Ohio.
      • It is estimated that only 2.5% of those cats are spayed or neutered. This means that 82,875 outdoor cats in Montgomery County are not spayed or neutered and can, therefore, reproduce.
      • The cat population (like other outdoor-animal populations) rises to the level of a food source. That means that if there is more than enough food outside (mice, rats, birds, people feeding outdoor cats, etc.), cats increase their numbers. If there is not enough food, then the population decreases. The cat population – currently roughly 85,000 in Montgomery County – seeks a balance with the amount of food available. 
      • If cats are taken off the streets (via adoption or euthanasia), there is an "unclaimed" food source available. This is called the "vacuum effect." With so many cats able to reproduce very quickly (two litters per year, with four to six kittens per litter), their population number rebounds every breeding season.
      • The only effective way to decrease the outdoor cat population responsibly is through sterilization (spays/neuters) of outdoor cats, so that outdoor kittens are not born.
  • Will accept unowned, unidentified stray or feral cats from city residents, city employees or volunteers, as long as we have space available.
  • Will examine each cat for identification, health, age and claw status. Cats without identification (collar, tag, tattoo, etc.) are considered "unowned."
  • Will vaccinate (FVRCP), treat for fleas if needed, spay/neuter and surgically "tip" the left ear of every cat to be returned (see return guidelines listed below), removing approximately ¼ inch of the ear while the cat is under anesthesia. The ear tip is a universal sign that the cat has been spayed or neutered.
  • Will ensure that every effort is made to find the owners of cats brought to the Humane Society of Greater Dayton with identification.
  • Will put stray, adoptable cats into our adoption program, whenever there is space available.
  • Will not euthanize stray, healthy, unidentified cats when our adoption program is full; instead, the following will occur:
    • Stray, unidentified cats that come from cities that are contracted with the Montgomery County Animal Resource Center will be directed to that facility. 
    • Other stray, unidentified cats that are wild (feral) or friendly will be spayed/neutered, vaccinated, ear-tipped, treated for fleas (if necessary) and released back to the community that they know, provided that:
      1. They are healthy and on exam and have a body mass indicating that they have a food source. 
      2. They have their claws.
      3. They are not kittens.
      4. They are not senior cats (who may struggle to survive).
      5. They are not injured or sick.

We must be vigilant in our goal to end the senseless euthanasia of healthy cats, proactively controlling cat overpopulation through education and spay/neuter initiatives like the Community Cat Initiative.

To safely catch a stray, free-roaming cat, please use a live trap. Live traps are available for a very small rental fee at the Humane Society of Greater Dayton.  

Community_CatWhat Are Feral Cats? 

Feral cats exist in a wild or untamed state. They can be either feral from birth – having never experienced human contact – or domesticated cats who have returned to an untamed state. After capture and sterilization, feral cats are returned to their home area, where they will continue to live. These spayed/neutered cats are less aggressive and less prone to disease. Feral kittens younger than four months of age can sometimes be socialized, becoming wonderful family pets. 

Benefits of Spaying/Neutering

  • Reduction of unwanted litters
  • Reduction of wandering, aggressiveness and territorial behaviors
  • Reduction of incidences of infection and tumors
  • Elimination of heat cycles 

Food for Thought

  • In 2009, approximately 4,300 cats were euthanized in the Greater Dayton area alone.
  • One female cat and her offspring can be responsible for the birth of 420,000 kittens over a seven-year period.
  • Altered pets have twice the life expectancy of unaltered pets.
  • Spaying or neutering improves the quality of life of companion animals, as well as barn and feral cats.

How You Can Help 

Please consider a monetary donation to the Humane Society of Greater Dayton. We are a nonprofit 501(c)(3) humane organization, so donations are tax-deductible. Your in-kind donation of any of the following items would also be appreciated:  

  • Pet carriers
  • Havahart® live cat traps
  • Disposable dishes
  • Gently used linens
  • Canned cat food
  • Tarps

Get involved! Spread the word about the Community Cat Initiative. Please consider offering your time to help in the trapping and transport of community cats, and assisting in educating the public about both community cats and this initiative.  

To participate in the Community Cat Initiative, contact Nate Tandy, Community Cat Initiative program coordinator, at 937/266-6804, or ntandy@hsdayton.org.

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