Ah, spring. With it comes landscaping changeovers, from plowing to planting, and preparations for the high moving season in many areas. Spring also brings another season: kitten season, the time of year when kittens are born and a reminder to think about your approach to those “strays,” or community cats, on the properties you manage.
Much the same way that keeping existing residents is more valuable than recruiting new ones, keeping and stabilizing your existing community cat population is more beneficial than removing or exterminating it.
Understand Community Cats
First, a crash course on community cats. They are not fully owned by humans, if at all—some might visit various cat-loving households for food or attention, while others are reclusive. These cats live in colonies that include males and females, thus when spring begins, kittens are born. Kittens keep coming until the colony is overpopulated and some cats migrate out to another territory. Then more kittens come.
Colonies and territories are very important to these cats. They provide safety, food, and companionship. If a territory becomes available (which happens when cats are removed), a new cat or two will move in, starting another colony. However, if a colony population stabilizes and no cats leave, no cats will move in. This is where your property management skills get to work. All you have to do is make sure the population stabilizes and ensure that the colony doesn’t have communicable disease. Luckily, this is fairly simple.
Implement Trap, Neuter, and Return
Just call your local animal shelter or google “community cat groups near me.” You’ll connect with volunteers who will come to your property, humanely trap the cats, have them vaccinated, sterilized, and ear-tipped, then return them safely to your property. A good trap, neuter, return (TNR) group will ensure to do the same for any new arrivals. You don’t have to do anything except take the credit for reducing the number of unwanted kittens!
Within a few months, you’ll notice that residents log fewer complaints about cats fighting or running in front of cars. The healthy, stable cat colony will fade into the background, controlling rodents but otherwise keeping their own counsel at the edges of your property.
The last perk of a community cat colony? You have a better reputation with your residents. Tell them you care about safe, healthy, rodent-free properties. You have recruited the sterilized, vaccinated cats to protect the property from fleas and parasites that rodents carry, which could impact pets. Plus, you never round up stray cats and kill them. Also advise residents not to let their family cats outdoors (this should be a policy violation anyway!) because the colony cats are territorial and patrol the area.
For very little expense and work, you can change your property’s perception from one “full of awful, sick stray cats” to one where residents are proud to have “the rodent patrol” of healthy cats on the job. Well done, managers. Happy spring!
Opening Doors PLLC is a legal and consulting firm that helps property managers and residents build pet-inclusive communities and solve pet-related housing issues. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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