Outdoor Cats

Outdoor cats


Outdoor cats that are free-roaming (whether socialized to people or not) are considered “Community Cats.” These cats sometimes live in groups called colonies and choose their territories because they have a food source and shelter there. They repay the favor of this beneficial set-up by keeping additional cats from moving into the neighborhood as well as controlling rodent populations for their human neighbors.

These cats do not have to be brought into the shelter to be rehomed, they already have a home! They are perfectly happy living in their colonies and neighborhoods. If a cat is healthy, it has found food and shelter and will be able to continue to thrive on its own. Plus, although some Community Cats may tolerate human contact, most would not be happy in a traditional home setting.

Instead, free-roaming cats and the neighborhoods they live in benefit when they are sterilized, vaccinated, ear-tipped, and returned to their neighborhoods.


What is Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return?

Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return commonly referred to as TNVR is not only humane, but is the most effective method for controlling feral cat population growth.

TNVR benefits the cats and the community.  Using this technique, community/feral cats living outside are trapped, neutered, left ear-tipped (the universal symbol of a sterilized cat), vaccinated against rabies, distemper, and other core viruses, and microchipped, and returned to their outdoor home.  TNVR stops the Cycle!

Why does TNVR work?

Palm Beach County Ordinance 98-22 allows trap-neuter-vaccinate-return and outlines requirements for these cats.  (They must be spayed/neutered, vaccinated against rabies, microchipped and they must have a left ear crop indicating that they have been sterilized.)

Community cats cannot be relocated.  They will travel miles to return to their homes and often become victims of car accidents and other trauma.

If you begin to trap and remove the cats, other cats will move into the territory and will fill the space left behind by the removed cats.  This is called the “Vacuum Effect.” The new cats integrate into the area and produce more kittens. This leads to renewed calls for trapping and removal and the cycle continues to repeat.

Cats that are trapped and removed are taken to Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control where they are anesthetized to scan for a microchip. If no microchip is found, the cats are spayed or neutered, receive core vaccinations including rabies vaccination, are microchipped, and then are returned to their outdoor home provided that they are in good health. 

Whether you love or loathe community cats, Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return (TNVR) is the answer to effectively reducing their numbers.  TNVR reduces most cat-related nuisances and is a benefit to public health and safety.  By helping community cats in need, you will be part of the solution to the overpopulation crisis. You will also lessen the burden on overcrowded shelters and rescue groups.

Advantages of TNVR (and why we recommend it)
  • It immediately stabilizes the size of the colony by eliminating new litters.

  • The nuisance behavior associated with feral cats is dramatically reduced, including the yowling and fighting that come with mating activity and the odor of unneutered males spraying to mark their territories.

  • The returned cat guards its territory, preventing unsterilized cats from moving in and beginning the cycle of overpopulation and problem behavior.

  • To reduce the number of kittens and cats flowing into local shelters. This results in lower euthanasia rates and the increased adoption of cats already in the shelters.

Palm Beach County Communities with Successful TNVR Programs

Here are just some of the communities within Palm Beach County with successful TNVR programs (no new kittens and a significant reduction in adult cats).        

Admiral's Cove, BallenIsles, Delaire Country Club, Ibis Golf and Country Club, Lost Tree Village, Newport Bal Club, Village of Golf, Village of Tequesta, Town of Palm Beach 

How does Peggy Adams help cats found outdoors?

When outdoor cats are brought to Peggy Adams, we consider each one on a case-by-case basis. Because every situation is unique, we learn more about every cat and its circumstances by having a conversation with the finder. We base our approach to cats and kittens found outdoors on the latest science and research.  For example, "lost cats are 10-50 times more likely to be reunited with their owners if they stay in the neighborhood of origin than through an animal shelter" (information provided by: NACA.net). Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League advocates for the concept of “Return To Home”, which encompasses all animals being returned directly to their owners, and both pet cats and community cats being returned to the neighborhoods they were thriving in!  

Found adult cats?
  • When brought to Peggy Adams, adult cats are evaluated for body condition and health to determine if they are thriving.
  • If the cat is healthy, we will sterilize, vaccinate and return it to its outdoor home.
  • Generally, if the cat is not healthy, or has been abandoned, we will accept the cat, rehabilitate it, and place it for adoption.
  • If the cat is returned and it starts to visibly decline in health, we ask the finder to let us know so we can take the cat in.
Found kittens?
  • Kittens are also evaluated for body condition and health.
  • Generally, we will admit kittens for our adoption program if they are social with people.
  • If a kitten is outside its socialization period but is healthy, we will sterilize, vaccinate and return it to its outdoor home.
  • The best place for kittens younger than eight weeks old is with their mother, if possible. Learn more by visiting our Found Kittens Resources Page.

If you have a question about an outdoor cat or kitten, please let us know using this form:

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Cat Deterrents

Quick Solutions

  • Apply cat repellent fragrances liberally around the edges of the yard, the tops of fences, and on any favorite digging areas or plants.
  • Install an ultrasonic animal repellent or a motion- activated water sprinkler, such as the CatStop™ or ScareCrow™. 
  • Scatter fresh orange and lemon peels or spray with citrus-scented fragrances. Coffee grounds, vinegar, pipe tobacco, or oil of lavender, lemongrass, citronella, or eucalyptus also deter cats.
  • Plant the herb rue to repel cats, or sprinkle dried rue over the garden.
  • Use plastic carpet runners spike-side up, covered lightly in soil. They can be found at local hardware or office supply stores. Or, set chicken wire firmly into the dirt with sharp edges rolled under.
  • Artfully arrange branches in a lattice-type pattern or wooden or plastic lattice fencing material over soil. You can disguise these by planting flowers and seeds in the openings. You can also try embedding wooden chopsticks, pinecones, or sticks with dull points deep into the soil with the tops exposed eight inches apart. 
  • Obtain Cat Scat™, a nonchemical cat and wildlife repellent consisting of plastic mats that are cut into smaller pieces and pressed into the soil. Each mat has flexible plastic spikes that are harmless to cats and other animals, but discourage digging. Available at gardeners.com.  
  • Cover exposed ground in flower beds with large, attractive river rocks to prevent cats from digging. (They have the added benefit of deterring weeds.)
  • Establish a litter box by tilling the soil or placing sand in an out-of-the-way spot in your yard. Keep it clean and free of deposits.  


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