Free-Roaming Cats

What are free-roaming cats?

Free-roaming cats can be found in big cities, small towns, rural areas, and suburban neighborhoods around the globe. Some are permitted outdoors at times but also spend time indoors with their families. Others are fed by caretakers and live outdoors only. Still others are former pets who were lost or abandoned.


Finally, there are cats who have become “feral”: Spending all or most of their lives outdoors on their own, these cats live in a wild or semi-wild state. Many populations of feral cats have had close contact with people for generations but still behave like wild animals.


Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) is the cornerstone of colony management and the only successful long-term strategy for humanely controlling the population of feral or free-roaming cats.  A sterilized colony of feral cats will stabilize and eventually decline in numbers through illness, accidents, and old age.  A sterilized colony often act to keep new, unsterilized cats away from their colony.


To reduce the amount of free-roaming cats in a neighborhood, the solution is to maintain a neutered, managed colony. Trap-and-kill programs do not work. Because of the territorial nature of feral cats, when all the resident cats are removed from an area a “vacuum” is created, and un-neutered cats from nearby neighborhoods will move into this new unclaimed territory. The cities of Berkeley and Oakland endorse the use of TNR to control the population of free-roaming cats in their jurisdictions. For more information visit