Pet services

​Living With Cats in Your Community​

 Trap Neuter Return (TNR)
A Guide to Community & Feral Cats

cat with tipped ear showing that it's a spayed or neutered wild/feral cat

​​​Courtesy: Ally Cat Allies

What is a community/feral cat?

A community cat is a cat that lives outdoors and does not have a particular home or owner. They may be friendly, or in some cases, feral (not socialized with people). These cats typically depend on humans for their food whether it is a neighborhood caretaker, dumpster, or other source.

What is TNR?

Trap-Neuter-Return​ is an effective and humane way to stabilize feral and community cat populations. Cats are humanely trapped, neutered, ear tipped (the universal symbol of a sterilized cat) and then returned to their outdoor home. Watch our Trap Neuter Return video.

What are the benefits of TNR?

TNR benefits the cats and the community! This technique helps cats live healthier and improved lives, in turn, the community benefits because the feral and community cat population stabilizes and declines over time. TNR reduces cat related nuisances and benefits public health and safety. An effective TNR program preserves the lives of feral and community cats.

Know that the animal shelter does not bring in healthy adult roaming cats. Adults are defined as 4 months and older. If you attempt to bring them to the shelter, you will be turned away. Here's why.

We made some videos to help explain Community Cats.

Cats who can to come to the shelter:
  • Kittens who are 0-6 weeks old whose mother is known to be missing or gone.
  • Cats and Kittens who are in immediate danger.
  • Cats and kittens of any age who are sick or injured.

Cats who we are not accepting at this time:

  • Mother cats with kittens who are 0-6 weeks old. The kittens need to stay with mom as it is better and heathier for all of them.
  • Healthy kittens between 2-4 months of age who are eating on their own.
  • Adult cats over 4 months who are healthy.
  • Adult cats over 4 months who are feral (meaning, not friendly or can be safely handled by humans); especially if they are being trapped. These cats are at risk because they are not safe to be adopted and the shelter environment needlessly stresses them. Stress leads to illness which can easily spread among other cats.

Found kittens? Consider fostering with the help of AC&C!

Here's a helpful kitten aging chart showing the ages of kittens from new born to 8 weeks old. Thanks to the Kitten Lady for creating this!

The Humane Society of Charlotte is offering low-cost TNR services through their clinics. Learn more about their TNR program.

AC&C is supporting collaborative efforts with community partners to help with spaying/neutering community cats in Charlotte/Mecklenburg. If you have a community cat that needs to be spayed or neuter, fill out an online application on our spay/neuter page.

There is a lot of information out there about Community Cats. The Humane Society of Charlotte has created a Community Cats Project in addition to their TNR program. They also have a "Working Cats" program for cats that would make great pest control keepers in barns, warehouses, and more. Help us make Charlotte a Community Cat friendly city.

Community Cats Project 

What's the difference between domesticated, community, working, and feral cats? Check out this resource from Alley Cat Allies!

The Friends of Feral Felines group is willing to help with TNR services to residents in Mecklenburg County. They will not set traps for anyone looking to remove cats from their properties. If you are willing to do TNR for cats in your neighborhood, contact them at​ or call the hotline at 704.348.1578

For more information on local TNR resources: