Something to Noodle On: Caring for Community Cats | MUTTS

Something to Noodle On: Caring for Community Cats


“Community cats” is a blanket term in animal rescue circles that is used to describe stray cats living outdoors. Many of these cats are considered feral, meaning they are generally afraid or distrustful of humans. Others are friendly with their community caretakers, but for one reason or another are not able to be re-homed as fully indoor companions.

While it’s unclear exactly how many community cats roam freely in the U.S., the Humane Society of the United States estimates that there could be as many as 40 million of them. One such MUTTS community cat is our beloved and street-wise feline friend, Noodles. Read on to see how you can care for cats like Noodles!

Published May 23, 2019

Scenario 1: A Cat Wanders Up to Your Property

How lucky — you’ve become the chosen one! Your new feline friend(s) must have sensed that you were a safe person to trust. You can honor that trust by caring for them as best as they’ll let you. If your new furry friend is young enough to be domesticated — or seems immediately open to it, regardless of their age — bring them inside like Patrick did, if you’re able. If you can’t commit to a feline family member, contact your local rescues and shelters about getting your new friend into a foster or forever home.

Published February 10, 2000

If your new feline friend isn’t keen on becoming a domesticated housecat right away, you can still become their purrson by showing them love and kindness. Take it from Team MUTTS member Joe Biondo, who provided loving a home to a feral cat family. Read on to follow in Joe’s footsteps. Plus — you never know. With enough time and trust built, you may be able to convince a once-feral feline to join your family inside!

Provide food and water. When providing food, leave it out for 30-45 minutes then remove it if you can. Food left for lengthy periods can attract bugs and animals that may fight the cats over it. If you’re unable to pick food up after, try to leave the food at a consistent time of day — preferably during daylight hours — so the feline friends under your care can predict when you’ll be feeding them and eat it before another animal does. Additionally, ensure that the cats have fresh, clean water daily.

Published May 25, 2019

Offer shelter. Try to offer safe places for them to take shelter from the weather, like a house on a raised platform to protect from wind, rain, and standing water. Provide shady spots to protect from the sun, and offer a bed or straw to keep them warm in the winter.

Published April 3, 2000

T-N-R. A key facet of caring for community cats is a process known as “T-N-R” — in which cats are humanely trapped, taken to a vet to be spayed or neutered, then returned to their living area. Doing so prevents these cats from reproducing, which means fewer kittens in need of rescue!

Getting cats “fixed” also decreases some negative, mating-associated behaviors such as fighting, yowling, and spraying. It can also give rescuers a chance to evaluate them for potential adoptability, giving many cats the chance to get off the streets and into forever homes. Additionally, while their surgeries are being performed, these cats also receive vaccinations that they otherwise would be unlikely to receive. You can get involved by contacting your local rescue or animal control center to see what T-N-R resources are available in your area.

Published February 24, 2009

Scenario 2: You’re Out and About and Find a Community Cat or Colony

Say you’re in a friend’s neighborhood or staying somewhere on vacation and happen upon a community cat or colony. What do you do?

Be cautious. First things first: Be sure you’re caring for these cats safely and legally. Always act in a way that ensures your safety, and never trespass on others’ property.

Published November 2, 1999

Investigate. Ask someone in the area if the cats have a guardian, are being cared for, and if they’ve been spayed/neutered. If not, contact local rescues and shelters to request they make a visit to the area. If the cats do have a caretaker and you’re in a position to help them, don’t be afraid to reach out. The stars may even align like they did for Team MUTTS member Nikki Tramontana, who was able to rescue and rehome her feline bestie.

Published November 1, 1998

Scenario 3: Be Kind to Cats Everywhere

Even if you never happen upon community cats who need care, you can always find other ways to be kind to them. Consider donating to or starting a community cat fund at your local shelter or veterinarian’s office to help fund their spay/neuter surgeries. You can also provide cat food to a friend who feeds community cats or a rescue that provides food for them. Finally, you can advocate for T-N-R programs and humane, no-kill population control mechanisms in your city or county. Noodles (and all the cats he represents) say “thank you!”

Published March 8, 2015

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5 thoughts on “Something to Noodle On: Caring for Community Cats

  1. 10+ years ago I was at a Fiber Festival and staying at an old ranch house on the property. Sat on the porch with a friend knitting a very expensive Alpaca vest… a small black and white kitty strolled past us and meowed, so being a cat person since birth, I meowed back to her…she stopped in her tracks and stared at me…then leaped into the middle of my knitting on my lap…we sat there for at least an hour chatting while this dirty little cat slept on my lap in a bed of Alpaca. I saw how hard she was surviving…broken tail, one year had part of it missing and the other one was damaged as well. Long story short, I spoke to the Manager of the ranch and she told me that she put food out for her and trapped her and had her fixed…I told her I wanted to take her home. Claire settled in with Abbie (another rescue kitty ) and my 2 dogs, (one a rescue and one a gift) She is on my lap all the time…yes even with my knitting…the alpaca vest? It was her first bed…I never got to wear it…but then…I guess it never really was for me. Most of my furry companions through my life were street survivors and they have been a huge blessing in my life.

  2. I donate generously to ALLEY CATS ALLies

  3. Such a wonderful post! Over 12 years ago, a feral mom brought her two kittens to our house to dine on our indoor/outdoor cat’s food. I T-N-R’d them and released them back under the carport where they were eating. They’ve never left. The mom and her female kitten won’t get too close to me. They roll around on the ground and purr when they see me. The male is so friendly. I pick him up and cuddle him. This family is inseparable. The mom still bathes her “kittens”. She waits to eat until they’ve finished. After 12+ years! Over the years, I’ve trapped and T-N-R’d many. many cats. I’m 77 and everything I have goes into these rescues. I have 9 indoor rescues and 9 outdoor ones. They are truly my life.

  4. Love these prints and the messages illustrated. You have a very kind heart! All my kitties have been rescues either from shelters or from those who wander into my yard. My girls are indoor only kitties, but recently a beautiful white boy has been taking refuge in my back yard. I think he’s just visiting as he is well fed. Although, if he continues to come around, especially in the colder months, I’ll create an outdoor refuge for him and keep him warm & fed.

    Thank you for bringing the stray/feral problem out in the open in such a loving, compassionate and kind way.

  5. The current penalties for animal neglect and abuse in most states and other countries are not severe enough. Too many judges don’t use the recommended sentencing guidelines. Abandonment of pets to the streets or “back to nature” increases the chances of being tortured, abused, or neglected at the hands of some deranged individuals. Thank you to all the good-hearted animal friends out there who care for and adopt abandoned animals.

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