It all starts with a glimpse of a dark shape, maybe a flash of eyes in the night. You wait patiently. You put out food. Soon the fearful cat you’ve glimpsed becomes a common sight. Soon, you have more than one. Soon, there are raucous sounds of cats in love. Soon, you have kittens.
You want to do the right thing. You want to socialize the kittens so they have a chance at becoming pets. You want to get the parents neutered or spayed so they don’t have to face another harsh winter or times of starvation or predator attacks. Thank you for wanting to help.
Outdoor community cat populations come from humans not taking care of their pet cats. Colorado Springs has a highly mobile human population, with an estimated 10,000 homeless or abandoned cats. Each abandoned, unspayed female kitten can come into heat by 4 months old and have babies by 6 months, producing hundreds more kittens in her lifetime. Without human care, cats in unmanaged colonies can experience great suffering from hunger, predators, disease and the elements.
Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) is the most humane and effective way of controlling community cat populations. TNR cats are spayed or neutered, vaccinated and surgically ear-tipped on one ear (the universally-recognized sign of a TNR cat). Then they are returned to their territory with support from their humans to provide food and shelter.
Colony Managers feed and provide shelter, monitor them for illness and adoptability, and trap and fix newcomers. TNR eliminates objectionable behavior that includes fighting and mating, and improves their health, behavior and quality of life. Instead of spending their energy on mating and raising kittens, they spend their energy putting on weight for the winter. Every cat who gets sterilized prevents hundreds if not thousands of needless feline deaths in our region, mostly in vulnerable kittens.
The Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region has a TNR program that supports community cats within the Colorado Springs city limits. If you live in the city and can commit to longterm care for the colony you are feeding, you can call them at (719) 302-8786 or go to their website for more information. Click on Services then Community Cats to find out how to become a sanctioned Colony Manager. If you are a sanctioned Colony Manager, they will provide you with free cat sterilizations, vaccinations and instruction for trapping.
If you have outside cats that you’d like to help by containing their numbers and need assistance beyond what HSPPR offers, we’ll do our best to help you through our TNR Coordinator Barb Jones. We are a small non-profit, so all our assistance comes from community members like you who want to help our outside cat friends.
We have a number of humane traps that we can loan out, along with volunteers who can instruct you on how to use them to trap, transport and release each cat. We assist HSPPR by educating the community about the benefits of TNR and helping people sign up to be the cats’ essential Colony Managers within their agreements.
We get tens of calls monthly, asking for assistance with community cats whose populations have swelled. While we always try to bring kittens into safety, our focus is on making sure the mother cats are taken care of too.
Depending on funding, we try to assist with the cost of spays and neuters. We depend on the public for monetary donations to our TNRCare Fund. We use this to help pay for spays and neuters for cats outside the targeted focus of HSPPR.
We provide assistance when we can to Colony Managers to help feed their colonies. We also depend on our community for that, taking in donations of food throughout the year and distributing it to those in need. In past years, we received donations from St. Paws Thrift Store, Pet Supplies Plus, Rescued Hearts Unique Boutique, Petsmart and Walmart, as well as many individuals.
Abandoned Cats & Kittens
An abandoned cat must very quickly learn to act feral in order to survive. Research has proven that it can be very difficult to tell a tame cat from a feral one within the first few days of meeting them. It is very common for someone’s abandoned pet to end up at an outside colony, searching for food.
Colony Managers are the best people to spot these Refugee Cats who desperately want to find a home again, but may be too traumatized at first to trust humans. Depending on available space, we are glad to take them in and help them recover from the trauma of being abandoned and providing medical care and spays or neuters as needed.
If you find a cat on the street who appears to be friendly, or have taken the time to befriend one who was first scared, please consider getting him or her inside to safety. You do need to take precautions for your own cat or cats and try not to expose them to the newcomer, but this can be fairly easily done by putting the newcomer in any small room or bathroom with a door. The main things to avoid are shared litterboxes, grooming or fighting between your cats and the newcomer.
If you contact us, we can send you an Intake Application and get the cat on our waiting list. If you can commit to becoming one of our Foster Parents, we can support you with supplies while we wait for an opening for the cat or kittens.
If you find kittens in your neighborhood, please contact us for assistance. Our first priority will be to get them safe, but right after that, we will help you locate the mother. Even if the mother is outside, she is still the kittens’ best chance at surviving and staying healthy. Of course, our priority will be to spay her so that this doesn’t happen again.
Again, we will support you with resources if you can become a Foster Parent for these cats. We are always looking for people who can bottle feed orphan kittens. If you can’t help the kittens you find, we will try to locate a Foster Parent for them as soon as we can.
How You Can Help TNRCare
You can help reduce the suffering of our community cats by volunteering to:
- Become a Colony Manager to take care of community cat colonies, including trapping and feeding
- Contact us for training with our TNR Coordinator Barb Jones to become a Colony Trapper and/or agree to help train other Colony Managers
- Become a Foster Parent for frightened but adoptable cats and/or kittens who have been rescued from colonies so Happy Cats can find them permanent homes
- Make a monetary contribution or designate Happy Cats Haven as a beneficiary through our Heritage Program to support this crucial work
- Talk to your friends, family and neighbors about feline overpopulation and ask for their support
Please contact us if you’d like to volunteer your time, either by managing a colony or helping trap or transport food or helping train others to help. You can contact us here or call us at 719-362-4600 .
We are always in need of funding to help prevent more suffering. Please click below and be sure to note the TNRCare program in your donation.