Select Page

Feral Cat Services

Frequently Asked Questions

Feral Cat Services



What is TNVR?
TNVR stands for Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return. TNVR involves trapping feral and free-roaming cats (or “community cats”) in humane traps, having them spayed/neutered, vaccinated, and ear-tipped, and releasing them back to their original location.

What is a Community Cat?
“Community cat” refers to any unowned, free-roaming cat. This encompasses both feral cats and stray cats. A feral cat is a cat that is not socialized to humans, and cannot be touched or played with like a pet cat. A stray cat is a free-roaming cat that is friendly to humans, but which has no known owner. Feral cats are not suitable to live indoors as pets, while strays may be. TNVR is a suitable approach for both feral and stray cats as it prevents the birth of additional homeless cats.

What is an “ear-tip?”
Ear-tipping is the surgical removal of a small portion of a cat’s left ear. Ear-tipping is done while a cat is sedated for spay/neuter surgery and is not painful for the cat.

An ear-tip marks that a community cat has been spayed/neutered and vaccinated against Rabies. It protects cats from being trapped and euthanized, and allows for them to be released back to their colony if they end up at the Wake County Animal Center.

Can’t feral cats go to a shelter?
Since feral cats are not socialized to humans, they are not adoptable as pets. No-kill rescues rely on adoptions in order to save as many lives as possible, and therefore cannot take on unadoptable cats. While a county shelter will take surrendered feral cats, the cats will be euthanized since they cannot be adopted out. If a community cat is friendly (a “stray”), it may be eligible to enter an adoption program.

Can’t the cats be relocated?
Relocating a community cat or an entire colony should be a last resort. Cats are territorial and will try to find their way back home, and may end up injured or killed along the way. Unless the cats’ lives are in danger, the best place for them is the area they are already familiar with.

If you feel relocation may be necessary, read Alley Cat Allies’ relocation guide to learn how to do so safely and successfully.

Will you trap cats for me?
While we can direct you to resources for performing TNVR, we typically do not have the resources necessary to assist with trapping and transport. However, we may be able to provide hands-on assistance in certain circumstances, such as when a caretaker is physically unable to perform TNVR or lacks transportation.

A community cat had kittens. Can you take them?
Kittens born to a community cat may be eligible to enter an adoption program if the caretaker first socializes the kittens to humans. The ideal window for socializing feral kittens is 6 to 12 weeks of age. If a kitten is past 12 weeks of age, TNVR is the best approach. Kittens can be spayed/neutered at 8 weeks old and 2 pounds, and can receive a Rabies vaccine at 12 weeks.

A feral cat is injured. Can you help?
If you come across a cat that is seriously ill/injured and unlikely to recover, such as from being struck by a vehicle, you should call your local Animal Control or bring it to the county shelter.

If a cat has a treatable illness or injury, you may be able to trap it and bring it to a veterinarian to be seen. While there is not a free full-service veterinary clinic in Wake County, you may be able to negotiate a “Good Samaritan” discount with your veterinarian.

If you are bringing a feral cat to the vet, it will need to arrive in a trap. Visit our Resources page to find a trap rental.

Upcoming Clinic & Education Events

Caring For Your Cat When You No Longer Can

September 24 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
Shirley M. Diefenbach, an attorney from the Estate Planning Group of Walker Lambe, a 30-year-old Tri...

Your Mature (Cat) Companion

October 22 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
Like people, senior cats have special needs and sometimes exhibit puzzling behaviors. Learn more abo...

Holidays With Your Cat

November 19 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
This isn’t just a seminar about pine trees and poinsettias (even though those are important); it...

Household Harmony

January 28, 2020 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
How can I stop my kitty from hissing at the dog, at my children, or even at my best friend? How come...

Featured Cat

My name is Little Suzy and I am ready for adoption. Learn more about me!
Little Suzy
Female - Kitten