Helping Neighborhood Homeless Cats

Helping Neighborhood Homeless Cats

This was contributed by Alley Cat – one of RescueInk’s team:

If you are interested in helping out cats that are homeless (cats that once were a pet or friendly feral cats (born on the street and often unfriendly and scared of people), there are several options.  There are often resources available to assist in helping homeless cats, including local shelters, rescue groups, and more, and you can find local resources with a simple Internet search.

One common and very effective way to help is called TNR, which means Trap, Neuter, Release.  If you are interested in TNR, you will need a specialized trap which you may be able to borrow from local rescue groups (or they may be available to come to you and do the trapping).  These special traps do not harm the cat, and provide safety for you – you never know if a street cat may become aggressive and scratch you!

Neutering or spaying can be done at a local shelter, your local SPCA, or a rescue group in your area.  Call and ask about the costs – most will do this for a nominal cost or for free, but it’s an essential component of preventing an increase in the problem of homeless cats.  You just need to check around in your community.   By ‘fixing’ the cats, they will never have generations of kittens and cats born in the outdoors and this makes a huge difference in the ever expanding feral cat population.  This is makes a much healthier and better living situation for these homeless cats.

Release means what it says: after the neutering surgery the cats need a couple of days to recover from the procedure.  Often a garage, empty room, bathroom or shed works and it’s also easy to just let them stay in the trap or a big size carrier.  Put some newspaper down and change as needed.  Also feed them in the trap or carrier.  If they are unfriendly or aggressive you want to protect yourself, and the less you give them to interact with, the safer.   You can also use a really sturdy pair of gloves to wear.  The long gauntlet-type welder gloves work great once you get used to them.  When you release the cats the best place is where they are already familiar with: exactly where they were trapped.  But first, you may find that your local rescue or shelter may be willing to hold them and put them up for adoption.

If you go online, the leading advocacy group in the world is Alley Cat Allies,  and they also offer brochures, provide many questions and answers, including testing for common illnesses in outdoor populations, working with your friends, co-workers and neighbors in TNR.  There are also YouTube videos on humane trapping and releasing.

Another step people like to do for homeless cats is to provide food, water and shelter for them.  Often many people “fall for” these cats who are struggling to make it on the street and bond with the kitties they are feeding.  And the cats are sure to appreciate the assistance.

By feeding these cats it also keeps them from being destructive with trash, garbage cans, etc   I have several cats I feed at my workplace and over the years I see how healthy and happy they can become even while living outdoors.  Since many of these cats were formerly pets, after a trip to the vet they can may very well be suitable to be fostered or adopted.

There are several ways to build cat shelters including from big Rubbermaid type containers, plywood and more.  You can find the information and videos on the Internet for any type of shelter you are interested in building.  If you feel that it is too difficult to build your own, shelters are also available to purchase and they are not expensive.

I often build shelters and enclosed feeding stations out of plywood.  These can be more difficult as you need a wood cutting table saw, screw gun, finish nail gun, jigsaw, etc.  A nice warm shelter can very easily mean the difference between life and death for these homeless cats, or frostbite in cold weather, or just a safe place to spend the night.

I have made and placed shelters throughout the SE Philadelphia and South Jersey areas.

Here are some photos of shelters for homeless cats I’ve built and used, and if you want more info on any of these, or help in making some yourself, email us at

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Thanks for helping out.  And PLEASE take a minute to make a donation to  The work we do is so important, and as a charitable animal welfare organization, we are completely dependent on contributions from people like you.  Visit us at to learn more, find  out how you can help, and of course, please share this link on your Facebook page.


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