Community Cats: How to Garner Support For and Run a Successful TNR Program

Community Cats: How to Garner Support For and Run a Successful TNR Program
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1Module 1
Recorded on: 2021-12-07
Unit 1Presentation Materials: Community Cats
Unit 2Transcript: Community Cats
Unit 3Workbook: Community Cats
Unit 4Recording: Community Cats

For the Animal Welfare League of Arlington (AWLA) in Virginia, euthanasia has been proven to be ineffective in successfully reducing community cat populations. With this in mind, they decided to change their approach in hopes of resolving common community cat conflicts not just in their jurisdiction but nearby satellite communities as well.

This webinar’s instructors are Jennifer Toussaint and Marnie Russ. Jennifer is the AWLA’s Chief of Animal Control. Meanwhile, Marnie is the Program Administrator for the National Kitten College for the AWLA.

Details of their discussion are about:

  • An overview of the AWLA and clarifying the difference between stray cats and community cats.
  • A glimpse into the state the AWLA is in before implementing their Community Cat Program – inundated and unable to effectively solve the community cat population program and compassion-fatigued from having to euthanize these cats.
  • The common barriers to a community cat program that the AWLA likewise experienced and working to overcome each of these.
    • Concerns for native wildlife and the ecosystem that will be impacted by whatever solution relating to community cats that is undertaken.
    • Funding constraints that limited their possible actions and efforts.
    • The need for community support and buy-in to implement the initiative that is grounded on collaboration with community members.
    • Concerns surrounding diseases that the community cats may come in contact with and transmit to humans, and the cats’ general wellness.
  • The beginnings of the AWLA’s community cat program.
    • The importance of the support and trust they forged with the community and key stakeholders.
    • The equipment and critical logistical components of the program that must be laid out.
    • The marketing and awareness efforts to fortify community support.
    • The considerations in terms of policies and protocols that must be outlined clearly to the onboarded caretakers.
  • A rundown of the basics of community cat trapping that looks into and manages expectations related to supplies and equipment, pre- and post-surgery housing, paperwork and release plan, the caretaker’s responsibility, and veterinary care and emergencies.
  • The positive outcomes of the program as demonstrated in the decrease in communities’ feral colony size, euthanasia rate, and complaints.
  • AWLA’s continuous and ongoing effort to maintain the community program which now includes volunteers, training, scheduled TNR services, and providing preventatives for the community cats.
  • The compliance monitoring to ensure that caretakers are fulfilling their responsibilities to really make the community cat program successful and not inadvertently create other issues.
  • Programs that resulted from the success of AWLA’s community cat program.
    • The Pet Pantry that supports community members by providing their pets with adequate needs through donations.
    • The Community Cat Taxi Program that leverages volunteers, so community cats get veterinary care without burdening the shelters further.
    • The Kitten College that made fostering more amenable by segmenting the fostering period commitment based on the age of the kitten.
  • The support and resources that the AWLA can provide other agencies who want to implement a similar model with.

Topics raised during the Q&A were about:

  • Whether the kittens in the Kitten College are from community cat colonies or community members.
  • Building trust with the caretakers.
  • More information about state-based funding and grants.
  • Getting community veterinarians involved in these types of programs.
  • The practice of ear tipping to identify community cats.
  • Why the AWLA did not utilize microchipping in their program.
  • The nuances with TNR programs that may influence its success.


Other Webinars with This Speaker


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Audience Comments

  • “Great info! Amazing presenters! Practical tips! Thank you!” — Brenda
  • “I thought it was an excellent overview of all of the elements of a grass-roots, public-private hybrid community cat program. Great work!” — John
  • “Ideas on kitten foster training and degrees of experience. Also limiting time people have foster kittens to help with fatigue.” — Julie
  • “I didn’t realize that once you TNR the cats then there has to be caregivers to care for them to survive, shelter, food, etc. It’s not just TNR and then your done. I was able to understand what entails with a program like TNR and how much help you need from the community to make TNR successful.” — Mary
  • “This was the best webinar that I have attended so far in those you have provided.”– Suzette




This webinar has been certified by the National Animal Care & Control Association and is approved for 1 Continuing Education Unit. Please refer to your NACA membership portal for current CEU submission process. Current NACA Members who attend the live presentation or watch the recording will be able to download a jointly issued attendance certificate that includes the National Animal Care & Control Association logo. Visit the NACA training page for a complete list of future trainings.




This webinar has been pre-approved by the Maine Animal Welfare Program for 1 Continuing Education Unit for the State of Maine’s ACO annual training. You can find more information about Certification, required annual training or submitting materials for credit at Maine’s Animal Control Officer Resource Page.





** This webinar has been certified by the National Animal Care and Control Association and may be eligible for Continuing Education Units. Please consult your local certification processes for additional details. Current NACA Members who attend will be able to download a jointly issued attendance certificate that includes the National Animal Care & Control Association logo.
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