Tuesday 22 November 2022

The negatives and positives concerning 'community cats'

The phrase "community cats" has a different meaning depending upon where they are. In the USA, for example, those feral cats which are managed by volunteers in TNR colonies are sometimes referred to as 'community cats'. They are quite nicely looked after, and they can live quite decent lives and indeed long lives. They certainly buck the image that some people describe regarding feral cats namely that they are very sick and live only for three years.

Community cat
Community cat. Image: in the public domain.

Developing countries

But community cats are more common in countries where there is a very laissez-faire or lax attitude towards cat ownership. I'm referring, without criticism, to developing countries and even those that you might consider to be developed such as India which is a kind of hybrid because certain parts of India are well-developed whereas other parts are underdeveloped.

But in India there are lots of community cats. Arguably, there are far more community cats than there are true domestic cats living under the caretaking of their owner. Community cats are cared for by the community as the term implies which means shopkeepers and anybody who wants to be involved.

Little or no veterinary care for community cats in developing countries

But they live pretty wretched lives a lot of the time. They are fed scraps and I guess sometimes crappy food and rarely decent well-balanced cat food. And I would suspect, too, that they are rarely taken to a veterinarian when they are ill. So, they don't get veterinary care.

Therefore, they die and a much younger age than they would otherwise if they were living with a caretaker.

Still better than feral

So, the upside for these community cats in places like India and the Far East is that they are cared for to a rudimentary level but no more. That's the plus point. It is better than being an abandoned feral cat, totally alone and surviving the elements in an urban jungle where they are likely to die young at about three years of age.

But the downside as mentioned is just a very rough life by and large without a proper caretaker.

TNR and community cats in developing countries

TNR is not that well adhered to in places like India or the Far East. It seems to me that the unowned cats in those places are not going to receive the benefit of volunteers involved in TNR programs.

I suppose TNR programs do exist in certain parts of India, but I would suspect that they are rare, indeed very rare. And this is why feral cats procreate unhindered in places like India and Pakistan and so on. They can procreate. They do procreate.

This exacerbates the unowned cat problem. These are stray and feral cats. And of course, as mentioned community cats. The attitude towards spaying and neutering in certain countries is too lax which means they have a perpetual abundance of stray and feral cats some of whom will become community cats because somebody wants to take care of them.

TNR developed countries

The best community cats are those as mentioned which are TNR colonies cared for by volunteers in countries like America. Although it must be said that TNR is controversial. In general citizens support it as it is the only way.

TNR volunteers are often or at least sometimes supported by the local authority through taxpayers' money supplied in a minimum way, but any money is effective in helping to support TNR programs. Donations are solicited to provide veterinary care.

And of course, TNR programs are designed to gradually stabilise and reduce the number of feral and stray cats in the community. And they want to reduce the size of the colony of cats in their care which they describe as community cats.

So, the most effective TNR programs put the volunteers out of work because over a long period of time, and it may take 30 years, there are no longer any feral cats to take care of.


In conclusion, the life of a community cat is better than a life of a feral cat in developing countries. And the same will apply to developed countries if volunteers manage TNR programs and look after a colony of feral cats. But the fact is that in developed countries community cats as mentioned do receive veterinary care

Health and welfare from desexing

Another point worth mentioning is that both spaying and neutering improves the welfare of female and male cats respectively. It improves the health of female cats and improves the behaviour of male cats and stops them or minimises the chances of them getting into fights during which they become injured.

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