We often get questions on our cat intake policies! "Community cats" is the collective term to describe any cat who lives outside, with or without someone who actively provides care to them. Community cats may be friendlier (perhaps only to the person or people who feed them!), or they might be more feral (avoidant of humans and generally unhandleable). If you have questions about when you should bring a cat to the animal shelter, here's a brief outline of some situations:
1. We do not accept healthy, feral community cats, as the only outcome is euthanasia. Instead, we support Trap, Neuter, Return (TNR) and even have a really robust (and free!) program for community cats! For more info, please visit: www.fairfaxcounty.gov/animalshelter/tnr
2. We do not accept healthy, friendly/stray community cats with no form of identification/ownership. They are simply living happily outdoors in the community, and our policy is to leave them where they are. We offer free TNR resources for "community cats," who may be feral or friendly! If a cat is doing well and is happy in their outdoor home, they should stay there and not be taken to a shelter or rescue, or relocated. These cats often have one or more people looking out for them and feeding them, and the place they are living is their home.
3. We will accept injured or ill feral community cats, in order to provide humane, end-of-life euthanasia. If you are a community cat caregiver who wishes to seek veterinary treatment for one of your colony cats with the goal of returning that cat back to their outdoor home, please take that cat to a private veterinary clinic. The shelter is unable to house feral cats and provide ongoing veterinary treatment.
4. We will accept injured or ill friendly/stray community cats. If we are able to medically treat a cat and put him/her up for adoption, we will! If a cat is too ill or injured to be saved, then we will provide humane end-of-life euthanasia.
5. We will accept cats who have some form of identification (ie, collar, microchip), as this shows that a cat is owned by someone and would likely not do well if left outside. We will hold that cat for the required 10-day stray period, and then the cat may be placed for adoption.
But... What About Kittens?
1. If you see kittens outdoors who are still nursing (0-4 weeks) - LEAVE THEM ALONE! Please don't kittennap them! Their mom is best suited to care for them, and she'll be looking for them! Neonatal kittens who enter shelters are extremely difficult to care for, and not many fosters are able to take them on. The only exceptions to this are if the mother cat has been killed, or if the kittens are in a dangerous situation (ie, on the shoulder of a busy road).
2. If you see kittens outdoors who are between 4-8 weeks and are not too feral - they may be brought to the shelter! We can place them in foster homes to grow big and strong (and friendlier), and eventually place them for adoption. Please call the shelter at 703-830-1100 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions or want to discuss a specific situation.
3. If you see kittens outdoors who are between 4 weeks to 10 months and are very friendly - please bring them to the shelter so we may hold them for the required 5-day stray period, and then spay/neuter and vaccinate them and place them for adoption!
4. If you see kittens outdoors who are older than 8 weeks and feral - they may be TNRed and continue to live in their outdoor home with the rest of their family. Please visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/animalshelter/tnr for more info about our TNR program.
5. If you have kittens who were born to one of your cats, and you need help placing them for adoption, please contact the shelter at 703-830-1100 or email@example.com to set up a date/time to bring them to the shelter. We can also give you information on where to get the mom cat spayed!
Any situations we didn't cover here? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let's talk!