CHS Feral Feline Program

Questions and Answers

What is the Feral Feline Program?

The Calaveras Humane Society, through our Feral Feline Program, advocates and implements Trap/Neuter/Return (TNR), a humane and effective way to reduce the number of feral and stray cats. Our number one goal is to reduce the number of feral and homeless cats in our county in a humane and effective way. Cats are caught using humane traps, surgically altered, vaccinated, kept overnight for recovery, then returned to where they were trapped. Some are also available for adoption as barn cats! And we sometimes have friendlier cats available as garden companions!

How does returning the cats help?

Once an entire colony has been altered, it is now generally stable and needs to be maintained by feeding once a day (uneaten food is picked up to keep the area clean and pest free). Resident cats keep most newcomers out, and colony numbers gradually decline due to attrition. Not only do feral cats help keep rodent populations down, but stable altered colonies also reduce cat fighting and the unpleasant associated noises.

Wouldn’t removing the cats be more effective?

Trapping and removal of cats doesn’t work because once resident cats are gone, new ones will move in to take advantage of now vacant territory. If these cats are unaltered, as is most often the case, the cycle of reproduction, trapping, and removing goes on endlessly.

Are there statistics to prove the effectiveness?

Our Feral Feline Program traps and spays/neuters more than 1,000 cats each year, including females of breeding age. Since the program’s inception in 2014, there has been a marked decrease in the number of cats and kittens surrendered to our friends at Calaveras County Animal Services. This has only been possible with community support and involved citizens who not only care for the colonies, but assist with trapping. We also want to acknowledge the invaluable support of our local veterinarians!


What can the community do to help?

Adopt! If you can give a barn cat or garden companion a safe environment where they will be well cared for and thrive, please contact us.

We ask that you take at least two feral cats when you adopt, though sometimes tamer cats are available individually. The adoption fee is fifteen dollars per cat. They will need water, regular feeding, and a place to shelter from the weather. They will return your hospitality by keeping rodents under control on your property.

We have begun a countywide grassroots campaign to build support for our program. We want to engage our community in this important project. Altered cat colonies that are being fed and looked after are healthy and content cats.

Need assistance having the feral cats on your property spayed and neutered? We offer trap loans (must be scheduled in advance; no drop-ins without an appointment, please) and can cover the cost of surgery and a rabies vaccine for feral cats of county residents. Please note: all cats altered via our Feral Feline Program will be ear-tipped.

To inquire about having your ferals fixed, please email or call (209) 736-9417.

Did You Know?

Unaltered Feral Cats Breed Fast

Each day more than 70,000 puppies and kittens are born in the US, and because of overpopulation, more than 1.5 million animals are still being euthanized each year. You can help.

Learn about the Calaveras Humane Society’s Spay & Neuter Voucher Program: Spay and Neuter Help


Unspayed/Unneutered Cats and Kittens

By spaying and neutering just one male and one female cat, more than 2,000 unwanted births can be prevented in just four years!


Some people keep two or more littermates, not realizing that they can breed. If you have two young cats of opposite sex, remember to alter them by five months or keep them separate. If not, you will have litters of kittens on your hands!


Related Pages


Calaveras Humane Society - Volunteer

Foster Home

Calaveras Humane Society - Volunteer Foster Home

Spay and Neuter Help

Calaveras Humane Society - Spay/Neuter Vouchers