community cats

If you’re driving down the street and see a dog, you probably assume that he’s lost and someone is looking for him. But if you see a cat, is the same true?

The reality is that there are millions of unowned cats living outdoors in North America, in addition to the many owned pet cats who are allowed to roam outdoors (often unaltered, which allows them to mate with community cats and add to the population).  Free-roaming cats aren’t unique to Windsor or Essex County, but overpopulation of free-roaming cats is particularly an issue in southwestern Ontario.


If you’re already feeding free-roaming cats, you’ve shown that you care for them. But the best way to make their lives easier is through TNR, or Trap-Neuter-Return, sometimes also called TNVR (Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return). By feeding but not fixing them, you can actually be making the cats’ lives harder because you are allowing them to have larger litters with more of the kittens surviving to adulthood. This means that the cats will ultimately have to compete with more cats for limited resources, and also means that your small group of cats may soon grow to an unmanageable number.


It may seem daunting to fix a whole colony of cats, but it’s important to take the first step. The cats won’t stop reproducing while you’re trying to decide what to do! The Humane Society’s spay/neuter clinic can help – cat spays and neuters can be done for only $50. We also offer a Community Cat Package, which provides (upon request) a free standard ear tip, microchip, and FVRCP vaccine to community (feral) cats. To qualify for this package, the cat must be brought in for surgery in a trap or be clearly free-roaming. In addition, we offer a “Frequent Fixer” program which makes your 10th cat spay or neuter free. Municipal vouchers are also available to fix free-roaming cats, but especially in Windsor those vouchers are often claimed quickly. However, please contact your municipality to ask if they offer a voucher program, and to express your interest in participating in the program. Please note that you must have an appointment to bring a feral cat in for spay or neuter, we do not accept walk-ins. To book an appointment please call 519-966-1118.

If you are caring for community cats…

You can help to protect the cats you are caring for as well as reduce neighbourhood conflict by taking some simple steps to prevent conflicts from arising. Some great tips are available from Alley Cat Allies at https://www.alleycat.org/resources/how-to-live-with-cats-in-your-neighborhood/. For information on how to construct an easy-to-build shelter to protect the cats you’re caring for over the winter please visit https://www.alleycat.org/resources/feral-cat-shelter-options-gallery/. Some area municipalities (including Windsor, LaSalle, and Lakeshore) have recently passed bylaws limiting the feeding of community cats. That makes it especially important if you are feeding cats to ensure that food is not left out to attract other nuisance species.

If you are a neighbour of a cat caregiver…

You may be feeling frustrated by the number of cats around. You may think that just getting rid of the cats is the solution, but there are many reasons that cat problems are rarely solved by trapping and removing a colony. Community cats live at a certain location because it offers food and shelter. If a colony is removed, cats from surrounding colonies may move in to take advantage of the newly available food and shelter and the cycle of reproduction and nuisance behaviour begins all over again. In addition, if all the cats in a colony are not trapped, then the ones left behind will tend to have larger litters of kittens. The kittens are more likely to survive because there are fewer cats competing for food. The colony’s population will continue to increase until it once again reaches the number that can be supported by the available food and shelter. It’s far more effective to take small steps to address the specific issues that you’re concerned about. Some great tips to keep cats out of your yard can be found at:


or here


The Humane Society will not trap and remove healthy community cats. While you can legally trap cats on your property yourself or hire a trapper to do it for you, a more effective solution is to work with the caregiver to ensure that the cats are being spayed or neutered. This will help to control the population, and prevent it from growing. Trapped community cats that are brought into the Humane Society as stray cats will be considered for Return to Field if they are healthy and not candidates for adoption due to their unsocial behaviour. If you are planning to trap cats in your neighbourhood please call us FIRST to discuss the options!

The good news is…

Steps being taken in Windsor and Essex County are helping to reduce cat overpopulation in our area. The Humane Society’s high volume spay/neuter clinic was one of the first of its kind in Ontario, and has spayed or neutered more than 60,000 animals since we opened in 2011. All area municipalities (Windsor, Essex, Tecumseh, LaSalle, Kingsville, Amherstburg, Leamington, and Lakeshore) offer some form of spay/neuter vouchers which help residents fix community cats and/or low income residents fix their own cats to prevent future community cats. And all of these efforts are paying off with fewer kittens being born. Between 2011 (when our clinic opened) and 2022 stray cat intake at the Humane Society dropped by 54.7%; overall cat intake dropped by 43.7%. 

Many people and rescue groups in our community are also working hard to implement TNR programs and find homes for community cats. At the Humane Society we’ve increased adoptions, transfers, and implemented other innovative programs that have been able to reduce cat euthanasia in the same time period by 93.9%!


As you can see, in the past few years our cat intake has stabilized, but it’s still at a level unheard of in other parts of Ontario. We know that access to affordable spay/ neuter works, so starting in 2024 our high volume spay/neuter service’s efforts will be focused primarily on cats. This will allow us to increase the number of cat spay/ neuter appointments, and hopefully allow us to successfully address cat overpopulation even further.


If you have questions about community cats, TNR, or our feral cat spay/neuter programs please contact ferals@windsorhumane.org.