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We prioritize public safety and humane care for cats while providing services for cats who live in the community through our Community Cat Program, also known as Trap/Neuter/Release. 


Community cats, sometimes called feral, stray, or outdoor cats, can be friendly or unsocial, but they aren’t lost: they are free-roaming cats who live—at least part of the time—outside. They share our neighborhoods and find shelter in yards, alleys, parking lots, and porches. Community cats may have one or more compassionate caregivers who help provide food and shelter, and, as a result, they often have more than one name.

Following the recommendations of leading national organizations, the Waco Animal Shelter does not admit healthy free-roaming cats. Many cats found out and about are simply pet cats allowed outdoors, which is legal in our community, and bringing them to the shelter separates cats from the people who already care for them. Even where cats have strayed from home, a cat’s best chance of being reunited with their family is to remain where they’re at—in the typical shelter, only 5% of cats are reclaimed by their families. By focusing on admitting only sick and injured cats who are not thriving in their outdoor homes, we are able to provide the care they need and reduce euthanasia of animals at the shelter.  

Community cat programs stabilize cat numbers and improve their health.


Because of the powerful “vacuum effect,” removing a cat from its environment without also removing the food source has been linked to an increase in cat populations—by as much as 200% according to a 2014 study. Community cat programs involve humanely trapping, spaying/neutering, and returning the cat (also known as TNR) to its outdoor home with a clipped ear-tip for easy TNR identification. TNR ends the breeding cycle and stabilizes free-roaming cat populations, while also eliminating or reducing nuisance behaviors such as roaming, fighting/yowling, and spraying/marking by male cats. Left in their outdoor homes, cats also provide beneficial natural rodent control.

learn more about community cat programs

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