Helping New York City's Feral & Stray Cats
The New York City Feral Cat Initiative (NYCFCI) is a program of the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals that is committed to solving NYC's feral cat overpopulation crisis through the humane, non-lethal method of Trap-Neuter-Return, or TNR for short.
The Problem: Too Many Cats Living on the Streets
Tens of thousands of street cats live in the alleyways, backyards, and outdoor spaces of New York City. They are the offspring of lost or abandoned pet cats and, unneutered, they go on to spawn new generations. The cats group themselves together in packs called colonies. Many of their nuisance behaviors can be attributed to mating behaviors that would likely cease if they were sterilized. These behaviors include noise from fighting and mating, and the smell from the spraying of pheromone-laced urine.
Because these cats are not socialized to humans, they are not candidates for adoption. The breeding of these street cats results in more kittens entering the shelters — taking away homes that would otherwise go to the adult cats already there. Most adult feral cats taken in at city shelters are euthanized (killed) because they are not adoptable as house pets. As a result, the city must shoulder higher costs for municipal animal control.
The Solution: Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR)
In neighborhoods throughout New York City, TNR is proving effective in humanely managing feral cat colonies and reducing their numbers over time. TNR is a two-step approach to feral cat overpopulation:
Stray and feral cats are humanely trapped, evaluated, given a rabies vaccination, left eartipped, and spayed or neutered (sterilized) by a veterinarian, and then returned to the familiar habitat of their original colony. Tame (friendly) cats and kittens young enough to be socialized are removed for adoption placement in permanent indoor homes.
Volunteers called colony caretakers provide ongoing care of the cats, including daily food, water, and clean-up of the area, shelter, and monitoring of the cats' health. This ongoing surveillance ensures that any new cats that find their way into the colony will be removed if they are tame, or TNR'd (rabies vaccinated, left eartipped, and sterilized) if they are feral. This allows the number of cats in the colony to diminish over time through natural attrition, as cats get old and die from natural causes.
How the NYC Feral Cat Initiative is Helping
What We Do:
The NYCFCI provides advice to the general public and TNR caretakers by phone and e-mail; feline educational information via its website and printed materials; community outreach and education, including TNR certification workshops and specialty training workshops; free equipment loans; transport of traps to and from TNR sites and transport of cats to and from spay/neuter appointments; cat food and straw giveaways; and limited hands-on TNR assistance.
What We Do NOT Do:
Investigate Animal Cruelty Cases:
Take in Cats or Kittens: