HSSC Helps Community Cats


    In keeping with our community focus, HSSC received a $20,000 Rachel Ray Save Them All Grant from Best Friends Animal Society. This grant is to help divert 200 at-risk cats from Sarasota County Sheriff's Office Animal Services (SCAS) to HSSC. These cats include nursing mothers and kittens, asocial cats, and "community cats" (i.e., feral cats). 

    Community cats live outdoors and free-roam in their neighborhoods. They don't have any one specific owner. Rather, typically many members of a community are caring for and feeding these cats.

    The grant will allow us to collaborate with trap-neuter-vaccinate-return (TNVR) groups and to place cats in suitable homes. By diverting these cats to our shelter, where we have more resources for them, SCAS should see their annual save rate reach the coveted 90% threshold that deems them a no-kill shelter. 

    "Community Cats are just like any other cats who live amongst us. They may prefer the great outdoors to traditional housing, but they still have families and neighbors who care about them immensely. A robust community cat program will allow us to provide support to those who care for them while also reducing the free-roaming cat population, which can lead to overburdened shelters and needless euthanasia" — David Lynch, Senior Director of Operations  

    HSSC's first deployment trapping community cats was on May 30, 2023. With the help of residents in the Palm & Pines mobile home community, we were able to TNVR 8 cats. Thanks to our medical team, many cats received routine check-ups and medical intervention for illness.

    Interested in helping community cats? Contact Emory Groeneveld, Director of Animal Welfare, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

    Trap-neuter-vaccinate-return (TNVR) is a humane, non-lethal alternative to the trap-and-kill method of attempting to manage cat populations. TNVR is a management technique in which community cats (aka stray or outdoor cats) are humanely trapped for the purpose of transporting them to a spay/neuter clinic, where they are evaluated and sterilized by a licensed veterinarian, vaccinated against rabies and ear-tipped* for identification. Following recovery, the cats are returned to the location where they were humanely trapped so they can live out their lives.

    Best Friends Animal Society, 2023

    What does a community cat look like? 

    Community cats typically have an ear tip that helps signal, even from a distance, to neighbors and trappers in the area that this cat has already been spayed or neutered and vaccinated. 

    Why do they "ear-tip" cats?

    It is a universal signifier in the U.S. in animal welfare that a cat has already been helped. Because feral cats can be difficult to get close to, the ear tip can be seen from a distance and helps prevent re-trapping, transport, stress, and unnecessary anesthesia.

    What should I do if I see an ear-tipped cat in my neighborhood?

    Let them be! They are performing an important job in the neighborhood, keeping rodent populations under control. Because ear-tipped cats have already been spayed/neutered, they will never produce more kittens, and their nuisance behaviors (such as fighting and spraying) will diminish. If the cat appears to be unhealthy, injured, or in immediate danger, please give us a call at 941.955.4131 so we can help!

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