Feral/Community Cat (TNR) Program

This program is for OUTSIDE only cats. If a cat lives in your house, even part-time or comes in/out, that cat is your pet and not eligible for this program. If you found this cat outside but are bringing the cat inside, either before or after surgery, or are adopting/rehoming the cat, this cat is not eligible for this program. This program is ONLY for outdoor cats that are NOT owned and will be returning outdoors. Details on feral/community cats and TNR in the FAQ section below.

Feral/Community Cat Policies

The following policies are for feral and community cats only.

  • All feral/community cats MUST arrive in a live, humane trap (pictured below, like a raccoon trap), no exceptions. Feral/community cats will not be accepted in regular cat carriers or kennels.
  • Ear tips are mandatory for feral/community cats.
  • Pricing for feral/community cats is $40, which includes spay/neuter surgery, pain injection, ear tip, and Rabies vaccine. The FVRCP (Feline 1-HCP) vaccine will also be included as long as we have them available. Payment is due at drop off.
  • Only one feral/community cat is allowed per person, trapping group, vehicle, or household each day walk-in feral/community cats are accepted.

Acceptable Traps

Walk-In Feral/Community Cats

  • Tuesday, Wednesday, & Thursday, between 7:30 – 8:30 am
    • We will only be able to accept the first FIVE walk-in feral/community cats Tuesday, Wednesday, & Thursday each week. Feral/community cats are accepted between 7:30 – 8:30 am. This will be on a first come, first serve basis with intake/consent forms put out daily by the outside door to count how many have already arrived so no one has to line up outside the door waiting for us to open. Forms will be numbered and color-coded each day, so forms cannot be copied, picked up early, etc. Forms taken prior to your feral/community cats’ surgery day will not be accepted – our clinic has security cameras so we can see exactly when forms are taken and if you pick up one prior to the morning of surgery, we will not accept your cat. Forms printed from home will not be accepted. When you arrive, grab a form outside the door. If there are no forms, then we are full for the day. If you have a form and it is prior to 7:30 am, please wait in your vehicle with your feral/community cat until the door opens at 7:30 am. If it is after 7:30 am, go ahead and bring your form and feral/community cat inside. Pick-up is 4:30 pm the same afternoon.
    • Occasionally we will be able to accept additional walk-in feral/community cats if we have no-shows for appointments or appointments not filled. If we are full when you arrive (no forms outside), you are welcome to come inside to inquire if we have appointment spots or no-shows and to be added to the day’s wait list.
    • All other feral/commmunity cat policies listed at the top of this page apply.
  • Feral Monday (monthly, 7:30 – 8:30 am)
    • The next Feral Monday will be JULY 8. We will accept 45 feral/community cats in traps. For this day only, we will accept TWO feral/community cats per person, vehicle, address, or trapping group. They MUST be in individual traps. They cannot be accepted if two cats are in one trap.
    • We will be hosting one feral/community cat only day on a Monday each month. Numbers will vary on how many are accepted depending on the veterinarian working that day, but will be a minimum of 25. When arriving for one of these days, you will follow the same rules as the walk-in days above and the intake/consent forms will be outside the door to grab one when you arrive. If there are no forms, then we are full.
    • All other feral/commmunity cat policies listed at the top of this page apply with the exception that pick up times will vary based on when the cat you brought in has surgery. Most will be called for early pick up. Please plan for this accordingly. 

Appointments for Feral/Community Cats

  • Appointments can now be scheduled for feral/community cats. They still must come in a live, humane trap and ear tipping is still mandatory, but this will guarantee this cat can be seen on the day scheduled. Feral/community cat pricing will still apply. This option should ideally only be used for friendly, community cats that you know you can trap easily and not miss the appointment OR if you’re confident you can trap any cat (working a large colony, experienced trapper, etc.) as the information entered when scheduling just serves as a placeholder for your spot. We can edit any other information when you bring the cat on the appointment date.
  • Scheduling is on our website (link below) but due to how our system is set up, when scheduling you need to choose LION as the species. We realize this is a bit silly, but we have been advised this is the easiest way to distinguish between domestic cats and feral/community cat appointments in our veterinary software and how other clinics handle this. If you are unsure of sex, choose FEMALE. Again, DO NOT choose cat as the species, as this is for domestic cats only, and you will be charged the domestic cat price.
  • Appointments open only a week in advance every Friday morning at 9:00 am for the following week.
  • Scheduling an appointment requires a $10 deposit, which is taken when scheduling. This deposit is applied to the balance for the appointment. If an appointment is no-showed your deposit is forfeited. Appointments must be cancelled by 9:00 pm the day before the appointment. Appointments cancelled prior to 9:00 pm the day before will have their deposit refunded. To cancel, you’ll need to send an email to info@spaymemphis.org. 
  • If you schedule an appointment, you can bring your feral/community cat on the appointment date anytime between 7:30 – 8:30 am. Intake/consent forms will be sent to your email to complete prior to coming in so please do not take a form from outside the clinic. If you are unable to complete the intake/consent form digitally – ask a staff member at the front desk for one when checking in.
  • All other feral/commmunity cat policies listed at the top of this page apply, except you can schedule more than one if there are open appointment slots. Each cat must be scheduled separately.
  • If you trap a different cat than the one scheduled, you can still bring the cat trapped in. Just let us know when you are checking in so we can update the cat’s information.
  • Pick-up will be at 4:30 pm on the appointment date.
  • If you have a rescue or TNR account at our clinic and want to schedule an appointment, you must enter your rescue or TNR group name as the pet owner name so we can merge them. Otherwise, the appointment will not go onto your rescue/TNR account and the appointment cannot be billed to the rescue/TNR account.

Feral/Community Cat FAQ - Click the question to expand for answer

Why did our feral/community cat policies recently change?

We simply can only do so many surgeries each day with only one full-time veterinarian on staff. We have to balance the daily surgery capacity with dogs, domestic (pet) cats, and feral/community cats, and we will always choose to put the quality of our surgeries and care of patients above the quantity. Furthermore, we’ve already had to decrease dog and domestic cat appointments over the past few months because we didn’t want to have to limit feral/community cat walk-ins – this truly was a last resort. If you’ve brought a feral/community cat to our clinic in the past few months, you are aware that we’ve had to regularly hold over some feral/community cats until the following day for surgery because we had more come in than we could do in a day, only to have to do the same the following day, and so on, which just isn’t sustainable.

We don’t make policy changes lightly and the last thing we want to do is help fewer animals but unfortunately, it’s reached a point where we have no other option until we can hire a second full-time veterinarian. After researching the policies of multiple other spay/neuter clinics throughout the country, we developed this hybrid plan which we hope can help as many as we can at this time.

For context of our veterinarian search, there is currently a nationwide veterinarian shortage. And of those looking for a position, very few are interested in a surgery only position and are local/willing to relocate to the area. Due to this, hiring a second full-time veterinarian is easier said than done, although we are doing everything in our power to do so.

What is TNR?

Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR), the humane approach to addressing feral & community cat populations, works. It saves cats’ lives and is effective. TNR improves the lives of cats, addresses community concerns, reduces complaints about cats, and stops the breeding cycle. TNR improves the co-existence between outdoor cats and humans in our shared environment. TNR balances the needs and concerns of the human communities in which many feral cats live. People don’t want cats rounded up and killed. They want to see cat populations stabilized and appreciate when the mating behaviors of cats are brought into check through spaying and neutering. With TNR, adult cats—spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and eartipped—are returned to the colony to live out their lives in their outdoor home. (source: Alley Cat Allies)

What is a feral cat?

A feral cat is a cat that exists in a wild or untamed state outdoors. Human contact is usually very stressful for them, so they often become aggressive or extremely fearful.

What is a community cat?

A community cat is an unowned, but more socialized outdoor cat. These cats are often considered strays and may be friendly.

Can I bring in a friendly cat under this program?

Yes, as long as the cat is outdoors and is being returned outside. This program is not for cats that are going to live in your house after they are fixed or for cats that are being adopted out/rehomed after being fixed. All feral/community cat policies listed at the top of this page apply.

Where do I obtain a live, humane trap?

You can purchase a trap at any hardware store or rent a humane trap at our clinic for a deposit of $75, cash or check only. We CANNOT accept credit cards for the deposit. This deposit is completely refundable as long as the trap is brought back in working order. If you use a check for the deposit, this check is not cashed unless the trap is not returned. We allow 1 trap maximum to be rented per person and traps can be rented for 6 weeks. Feral cat traps can only be rented Tuesday – Friday between the hours of 9:00 am – 3:00 pm. as to not interfere with our check-in and check-out times. We do recommend contacting us by email at info@spaymemphis.org prior to coming to rent a trap as we regularly do have them all rented out. Please note: You cannot bring a cat in a carrier or kennel, then transfer to a trap at our clinic. Cats MUST ARRIVE in a trap to be brought in as a feral/community cat.

Why are feral/community cats ear tipped?

Eartipping is the universal sign of an altered feral cat. While the cat is sedated for the spay or neuter surgery, a quarter of an inch is removed from the tip of the left ear in a straight line cut. The procedure is swift and painless, and healing is rapid. For more information on eartipping, please visit https://www.alleycat.org/resources/feral-cat-protocol-eartipping/.

What if I see a cat in my neighborhood or yard?

If it is your first time seeing a specific cat in your neighborhood, MAS has great resources if you find a lost pet at https://www.memphistn.gov/animal-services/i-found-a-pet/.

If you frequently see and/or feed an outside cat in your neighborhood that is not ear-tipped or does not have identification, we first recommend asking around your neighborhood and neighborhood social media sites to see if the cat belongs to anyone. If the cat is friendly, you can also have scanned for a microchip at MAS, the Humane Society, local Memphis Fire Stations, and any veterinary clinic, including Spay Memphis, without an appointment. If your search yields no results for an owner and you are continually feeding this pet for at least 7 days (The City of Memphis Animal Ordinances defines a pet owner as any person, partnership, or corporation owning an animal; or any person who feeds, shelters, or harbors an animal or permits it to remain on the person’s property) or if this pet is determined to be a feral, community, or stray cat, we highly recommend spay/neuter to prevent overpopulation in your neighborhood. If you plan to bring this cat inside, please schedule an appointment on our website for a domestic cat. If you plan to return this cat outside, you can utilize any of the options for bringing in feral/community cats above. 

Please note that all feral/community cats brought into our clinic are checked for a microchip under anesthesia. If one is found and the microchip is registered, no additional services will be performed, and we will file a found pet alert with the trapper’s information.

What to do if you see multiple feral/community cats in your neighborhood or yard?

First, make sure someone is regularly feeding them and leaving clean, fresh water. If someone is taking care of them, and you are looking to stop the constant reproducing, talk to your neighbors and make a plan! You’ll need to find neighbors to help trap, transport to/from our clinic, and recover post-surgery until they can be re-released. Once you have a plan, you can set up a neighborhood TNR account at our clinic for your neighbors to donate to cover the cost of the cats’ spay/neuter. Email bpace@spaymemphis.org to set up a neighborhood account prior to bringing in any trapped cats.

What if I find kittens outside?

If you find kittens outside without a mom, leave them be and wait for mom as she is most likely out looking for food. Learn more at https://www.alleycat.org/resources/found-kittens-leave-them-be-flyer/. If the mother cat does not return after a few hours, we recommend reaching out to your local animal shelter or humane society for advice.

If you have kittens outside you will be returning back outside and want to bring in under our feral/community cat program, please note that kittens need to weigh at least 2 lbs. for surgery, which is typically 8 – 10 weeks old. If you plan to adopt these kittens out or keep them inside, please schedule an appointment for each as a domestic cat.

I think the cat may be nursing or have kittens?

Yes. We can safely spay lactating cats. You will want to wait until the kittens are at least 6-8 weeks old, so they can be without the mom for the day of surgery and are eating on their own. We ask that the day you bring the cat in to please let us know the cat is lactating and how old the kittens are, if you know this information.

Can you spay a pregnant cat?

Yes. We can spay a pregnant cat as long as they are not in active labor. Spaying will terminate the pregnancy. There is no additional charge if a cat is pregnant.

Why can't I bring a feral/community cat in a regular cat carrier?

Feral/community cats must be brought in individual traps for a few reasons. First and most important, feral and most community cats are not friendly/socialized and if they are in a trap, they can be sedated through the trap, which is not only safer for the cat but our staff too. Second, domestic cats in carriers are moved into a kennel for the day and if you bring a feral cat in a carrier, we do not have kennel space available to move them into. Third, requiring feral/community cats to only come in live, humane traps is standard and best practice protocol set forth by all national veterinary associations and TNR professionals.

What I find a cat/kitten outside but it now lives in my house?

An appointment must be scheduled and then this cat can be brought in a regular cat carrier, as this is a domestic cat. If the cat comes in your house at all and is able to be handled, that is your pet (domestic) cat. If you plan to take an outside cat inside after surgery and it live in your house or you plan to adopt it out, this is a domestic cat and you must schedule an appointment. 

How do I take care of a feral/community cat after surgery?

Post-op care for feral/community cats is available at Feral-Community Cat Post Op Care Instructions.

We urge you not to trap cats for surgery in these freezing temperatures as cats do not need to be released back outside after surgery in this freezing weather. If cats with freshly shaved abdomens recovering from surgery are put back outside in frigid temperatures, it puts them at high risk of hypothermia or other complications. A cat’s energy should go into recovery after surgery, not trying to stay warm. The only exception is if you have a safe, heated environment in which the cat can recover for a minimum of 24-48 hours after surgery, or when the temperature rises above freezing, and where the cat will have access to food and water (i.e., a temperature-controlled room, garage, barn, basement, etc.).

Can multiple feral/community cats be in a trap?

Only one feral/community cat is accepted per person, trapping group, vehicle, or household each day. However, if you accidentally have two or more cats go into a live, humane trap, we cannot accept a trap with more than one cat.

Feral/community cats are sedated through the trap and are typically not happy about being injected. Having another cat in the trap would be potentially unsafe for another cat if they are sharing the trap. Live, humane traps are also not typically large enough for more than one adult cat to fit inside comfortably. Luckily, this is a very rare occurrence and would really only be a possibility for kittens but Spay Memphis will not accept a trap with more than one cat inside the trap.

What if the cat I bring in is already fixed and/or microchipped?

All feral/community cats brought into our clinic are checked for a microchip once they are under sedation. If they have a microchip and it is registered, no additional services will be performed. If they have a microchip that is not registered and there is no other identifying information (tags, etc.), the cat will receive all services requested by the trapper (including ear tip). If the cat is already altered, pricing is based on how our staff/veterinarian determined the cat was already altered, which may be an exam fee, sedation fee, etc. but this will be taken from the payment already made at drop off.