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About FCAP
The Animal Center's Feral Cat Assistance Program (FCAP) is a volunteer staffed program providing low-cost spay/neuter and vaccination assistance to caregivers of unowned, free-roaming stray and feral cats in Newtown.
—What is a feral cat?
—How can I get help?
—What is TNR?
—Can you prove TNR works?
—What shelters take in feral cats?
—How do I find spay/neuter help?
—Can I borrow a trap?
—How do I trap a feral cat?
—How do I socialize feral kittens?
—Where can I find winter shelters?
—How do I learn more about ferals?
—How many feral cats are there in CT?
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"While we work toward the day when every cat will have a loving home, for those too wild to be adopted, TNR is a compassionate way to help them and a fair solution for a 'problem' of no fault of their own." —Nathan Winograd

Harry Harry

Feral Cat Program
Feral Cat Assistance Program

The similarities we can watch between a wild lion or tiger stalking his prey on the Discovery Channel and a fluffy house cat stalking a toy mouse remind us that the domestic cat shares an important kinship with his wild cousins. That inherited feline wildness usually lurks beneath the surface of our pets, but is the stuff of day-today survival for the feral cats in our community. While genetically identical to house cats, feral cats have very different lives because these cats grow up without human contact or revert to a wild state after months or years of self-sufficiency after being lost or abandoned.

While so shy as to sometimes remain unseen, feral cats are unfortunately common. The population estimates of feral cats range from 13 million in winter, 24 million in
summer (Clifton, M., Where cats belong – and where they don’t, ANIMAL PEOPLE [June 2003] .), to 50 million (Levy, J., Humane strategies for controlling feral cat populations [2004], Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Vol. 225, No. 9. ), to 60 to 100 million (Alley Cat Allies, Tracking Our Success [2005].).

Whatever their exact numbers, feral cats can be expected to contribute substantially to the number of kittens born each year given their estimated sterilization rate of 2% (Levy, J., Humane strategies for controlling feral cat populations (2004), Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Assn., Vol. 225, No. 9.).

Attempted management of feral cat populations by Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) programs are an increasingly popular and much more effective alternative to mass euthanasia.

The strategy behind TNR is simple but very effective: stop the colony from growing by preventing new litters. Where kittens have been born in a colony, they can often be removed to foster homes, socialized and eventually placed into adoptive homes. For the adults, who are usually too wild to socialize, they are returned to their home colonies and looked after by a volunteer caretaker after being neutered by a vet, and the colony population reduces gradually through natural attrition.

Started in March 2005, The Animal Center’s Feral Cat Assistance Program program has always used the TNR strategy to reduce feral cat populations in our community.

What is a Feral Cat?
EartipWhile the term "stray" generally refers to cats who have been recently abandoned and are still domesticated, feral cats are defined as the "wild" offspring of domestic cats and are primarily the result of cat owners' abandonment or failure to spay and neuter their animals, allowing them to breed uncontrolled.
What Cats are Eligible?
This program helps unowned, free-roaming cats in the Newtown area who are unsocialized feral cats, unclaimed strays, or belong to barn colonies who do not receive veterinary care. Cat not eligible include cats who are owned, seriously ill cats, or cats who many be turned over to an animal control facility or animal shelter for the purpose of euthanasia.
How it Works
This program is staffed 100% by volunteers. Because of limited resources, we do not have the ability to trap the cats for you in most circumstances. Our volunteers will set up the vet appointments, help you determine the best strategy for trapping, instruct you how to humanely trap, and will loan you equipment. All cats helped by this program will be released back to the site where they were humanely trapped. If you are in the Newtown area and need assistance with feral cats, contact The Animal Center at (203)270-0228. Note: our primary service area is Newtown, CT. We will help bordering communities as resources permit. If you live outside of Newtown, we can recommend a rescue group or shelter in your area that may be able to help.
Want to Borrow a Trap?
If you live outside of our service area or wish to take a feral cat you've been feeding/caring for to your own veterinarian, you can borrow a humane cat trap from our trap-bank. To minimize risk of injury to you or the cat, we require you to attend a brief feral cat trapping demonstration. We also require a $50 deposit for the trap, which is fully refunded to you upon return of the equipment. Note: The Animal Center will not reimburse you or your veterinarian for medical treatment or expenses.

About Trap-Neuter Return
Social networksWhat is TNR? TNR is a full management plan in which stray and feral cats already living outdoors are humanely trapped, evaluated, vaccinated, and sterilized by veterinarians. Where kittens have been born in a colony, they can often be removed to foster homes, socialized and eventually placed into adoptive homes. For the adults, who are usually too wild to socialize, they are returned to their home colonies and looked after by a volunteer caretaker after being neutered by a vet, and the colony population reduces gradually through natural attrition.

What are the advantages of TNR? It immediately stabilizes the size of the colony by eliminating new litters. The nuisance behaviors associated with feral cats is dramatically reduced, including fighting among males and the odor of unneutered males spraying to mark their territory.

Veterinary care. Cats helped through the Center's Feral Cat Assistance Program get a vet exam, rabies vaccination, distemper vaccination, spay/neuter surgery, are treated for fleas/ticks/earmites, and ear-tipped (required). An ear-tip is a 1/4" straight cut across the cat's left ear and is the universal sign of a neutered cat. After recovering from surgery, feral cats are returned to their familiar habitat under the lifelong care of volunteers.

What if I do nothing?
If nothing is done, the size of a feral cat colony will grow until it reaches carrying capacity (how many cats the available food and shelter can support). When the cats exceed carrying capacity, population control comes in the form of starvation and disease. Female cats can produce two litters per year, with an average litter of four. If even half of the cats are female, it's easy to see how a feral cat colony can (and will!) grow exponentially. Don't wait for the size of the feral cat colony to grow beyond control.
What Shelters Take Feral Cats?
Based on studies of kill rates for feral cats across the county, we believe feral cats don't belong in shelters. Recent data from Alley Cat Allies found that 70% of all cats who enter animal shelters are killed--feral, stray and pet. That number jumps to virtually 100% for feral cats. Why? Because most people do not want to adopt cats who are not socialized to people and who hide or display aggression when handling is attempted. We believe that's it's more humane to let a cat live out his life in the territory he knows as home after spaying/neutering and vaccinations, ideally under the care of a volunteer.

We strongly discourage trying to place feral cats in shelters or relocating them except in extreme circumstances. For more information on this subject, visit Neighborhood Cats

About Free Roaming Cats in CT
While Connecticut has managed to achieve one of the lowest euthanasia rates for dogs in the country, we have had less success managing cat overpopulation. The lack of publicly available records documenting feline populations makes quantifying exactly how many strays there are impossible.

Shelter intake, redemptions, adoptions, transfers and euthanasia statistics are typically used to measure the stray populations in a community as well as the effectiveness of the programs in place to help them. But in Connecticut, municipal shelters are not legally required to take in cats and the majority do not.

In the private sector, shelters and rescue groups are not required by the state to report intake, redemptions, transfers and euthanasia statistics to any central governing agency, nor are they required to track this information on the animals who come into their programs.
This makes getting exact figures on cat population difficult, but they can be estimated from demographic studies on feral cat populations. Dr. Julie Levy, DVM, a professor at the University of Florida, Gainesville and one of the leading academicians in the feral cat field, evaluated demographic studies on the topic and concluded that, “[f]or purposes of estimating the size of a community’s feral cat population, it is reasonable to estimate 0.5 cats per household,” which would put Connecticut’s free-roaming cat population at approximately 500,000. Levy, Julie, DVM, “Feral Cat Management,” Chap. 23, p. 378, in Shelter Medicine for Veterinarians and Staff (Blackwell Publishers, 2004). These feral cat population estimates would not likely correlate to data from communities actively engaging in targeted TNR programs.

Key Studies on TNR
Scientific studies show that Trap-Neuter-Return is the humane and effective approach for managing feral cats; that cats benefit from Trap-Neuter-Return in both the long term and the short term; that Multiple long-term studies of Trap-Neuter-Return have shown that managed colony population sizes decrease over time. More
Socializing Feral Kittens
Here are links to sites that we've found helpful when socializing feral kittens:

Setting Up Winter Shelters for Feral Cats
Below are some great, inexpensive recommendations from feral cat advocates for keeping ferals warm and safe during the winter months.
Spay/Neuter Resources
Feline Spay/Neuter Assistance in Fairfield County
  • Hope Spay/Neuter Clinic (203)437-7955
  • Nutmeg Spay/Neuter Clinic 203-690-1550;
  • Friends of Animals: 1-800-321-7387
  • Team Mobile Van: 1-888-367-8326
  • APCP: Low-Income Program. Vouchers provided to Low-Income CT citizens who meet the criteria for one of six programs as defined by the Department of Social Services (DSS). >>Download application.

By town

  • Bethel
    • Danbury Animal Welfare Society:
  • Danbury
    • Help for Pets: Tel: (203) 792-1477
    • Danbury Animal Welfare Society:
  • Darien
    • Strays and Others Tel (203) 966-6556
    • Friends of Felines, Inc. Ferals and Domestic cats. Tel(203)363-0220
  • Greenwich
      • Friends of Felines, Inc. Ferals and Domestic cats. Tel(203)363-0220
  • New Canaan
      • Strays and Others Tel (203) 966-6556
  • Newtown
      • The Animal Center. Ferals/stray only. Tel (203) 270-0228
      • Spay & Neuter Assoc. of Newtown Tel (203) 426-5730
  • Norwalk
      • Strays and Others Tel (203) 966-6556
  • Stamford
      • Strays and Others Tel (203) 966-6556
  • Stratford
      • Feral Care Tel (203) 362-9440
  • Westport
      • Strays and Others Tel (203) 966-6556
  • Wilton & Weston
      • Animals in Distress (203) 762-2006
      • Strays and Others Tel (203) 966-6556
  • Stamford
      • Stamford Animal Care and Control Tel: (203) 977-4437
      • Friends of Felines Inc. Services both feral and domestic. Tel(203)363-0220
Feral Cat Resources
We recommend the following websites for more information on feral cat, care and management:
How To Trap Feral Cats
Check out these very helpful videos from Fix Nation on how to trap feral cats. >view videos