Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

We have compiled a list of the common questions and requests for help that we receive. Please take a look below and, for more information and other resources, click on the ones that apply to your situation.

“Community cats” – stray or unowned cats

I’m feeding a cat that doesn’t seem to belong to anyone. What should I do?

An estimated 17 million Americans feed cats every day that don’t seem to belong to anyone. Some of these cats are socialized and friendly; others are terribly shy and avoid physical contact (sometimes referred to as “feral”). Some of these cats are lost; some of them have been abandoned by irresponsible owners.

In our community, hundreds of these cats are trying to fend for themselves in residential neighborhoods, alleyways, behind restaurants, in parks, and near warehouses and office buildings. But there are also hundreds of kind people like you trying to help them.

The best way to help these cats, and to gradually reduce their numbers, is to trap-neuter-return (TNR) the adults, and to socialize and find homes for any kittens. You can do this using resources provided on our website.

It is essential to act now. If you wait, one or two unneutered cats can quickly become 5, 10, or 20! Cats go into heat and have litters of kittens two times a year, in the fall and the spring. And kittens as young as four months can have other kittens. So it doesn’t take long for a small problem to become a big one.

If any of the cats you are feeding have a notched or tipped ear (see photos below), they have already been neutered.

For any cats that do not have a notched or tipped ear, we can help: with step-by-step instructions, the loan of humane traps, and referrals to low cost or free spay/neuter programs in the local community.

Please fill out our Spay/Neuter Assistance Request Form.

How do I find a home for a friendly cat that seems to have no owner?

Before trying to find a home for a friendly cat, please make sure the cat does not already have a family that is looking for him/her.

Your local veterinary hospital or animal shelter can quickly check whether the cat has a microchip and if so, contact the owner or give you the information to contact them.

You should file a found cat report and check lost cat reports at your local animal shelter.

Look for missing cat signs posted in the neighborhood, at your nearest pet store, and on the pet listings at

If you have one, check your neighborhood on-line listserve for lost cat notices.

ICRA generally cannot help find a new home for a wandering friendly cat. Our primary mission is our trap-neuter-return program (TNR) for community cats. We do not have a shelter, and our small foster-family program is always full of cats and kittens from our TNR work.

In addition to visiting your local animal shelter, you should contact the following no-kill shelters and rescue groups to see if they can help you in placing a friendly unowned cat (note that some shelters will only take cats that were found in their community):

If they cannot take the cat at the moment, check back regularly since the status of their programs change on a weekly basis.

If the cat is of an identifiable breed (e.g., Siamese or Maine Coon), there may be a group in your area that specializes in finding homes for such cats. Use google and a search query like “siamese rescue northern California” to find such a group.

There are cats coming into my yard and I want to get rid of them. What should I do?

“Community cats” (unowned cats) show up where there is a source of food. Some are friendly; some have never been socialized and run from human contact (sometimes referred to as “feral”). If the cats you see now are removed, other cats will simply take their place, utilizing that same food source.

Research has shown that the best way to reduce the problems associated with community cats is to trap them, neuter them, and return them (TNR) to their original location. That way, no more kittens are born to enlarge the group, and the number of cats gradually declines with age. Similarly, troubling behaviors like midnight fighting and howling are markedly reduced, if not eliminated, when cats are neutered.

It is important to engage your neighbors in managing the community cats you see in your yard. Those same cats are probably also showing up in other yards, and perhaps being fed there. Or, you may be seeing just a few of many unowned cats that live in your neighborhood.

Talk to your neighbors. Find out where the other sources of food might be. Find out how many cats are where. And convince your neighbors to work with you to solve the problems associated with unowned and unneutered cats. (See below for how we can help.)

ICRA will not remove unowned cats from your property. And such cats should never be taken to an animal shelter. If they are not considered adoptable, they may be killed outright. And remember, other cats will simply take their place, so you need to address the underlying situation.

If you are willing to work with us to TNR the unaltered cats in your area, we will do our best to help you. We can loan you humane traps, train you to use them, provide low-cost or free spay/neuter appointments and transportation, and help with recovery from the surgery.

Act now! A few young adult cats can soon turn into many cats and kittens.

Please fill out our Spay/Neuter Assistance Request Form.

I need help to fix some stray cats.

If you are willing to work with us to trap-neuter-return (TNR) the unaltered cats in your area, we will do our best to help you. We can loan you traps, train you to use them, provide spay/neuter appointments, and help with recovery from the surgery.

Act now! One or two cats can soon turn into many cats and kittens. Cats go into heat twice a year (in the fall and the spring), and kittens as young as four months can have other kittens.

Please fill out our Spay/Neuter Assistance Request Form.

I found some kittens. Please read our page on how to care for found kittens. We can help with spay/neuter and vaccination of the kittens when they are big enough, usually at around 2 months of age. We rarely have space in our foster program, but if you are willing to care for the kittens in your home, we can screen adopters, list them on our website, and show them at Petco when space allows. You can also contact the following no-kill shelters for help placing kittens once they are old enough to be spayed or neutered: If they cannot take them at the moment please check regularly since they are always placing cats into good homes and their status changes on a weekly basis.
There is an injured feral cat in my neighborhood.

If the cat is friendly, and you can get it into a carrier, we can help you get it to a veterinarian.

If the cat is not friendly, or you are not sure whether it is, we can loan you a humane trap and help you obtain vet care for the cat once it has been trapped. (The cat can also be neutered at the same time, if it has not already been.) We are not always able to help with the cost of such care.

Once the cat is getting the medical attention it needs, put up flyers in your neighborhood in case its family is looking for it — animals thought to be lost may be injured and unable to make their way home.

Please contact us at and provide the following information:

  • Your name
  • Location of cats (cross streets are fine)
  • Contact phone number
  • Can you transport to and from the vet?

Your own cat

I need help finding a new home for my cat.

Because ICRA does not operate a shelter, and our adoption program is already filled with the homeless cats and kittens that come to us through our TNR program, we cannot take your cat.

But there is information below that may help.

If you are giving up your cat due to behavior problems, please take a look at our resources page on behavior. Many behaviors that are unpleasant to humans are natural to cats and can be reduced through behavior modification.

If you are having trouble finding pet-friendly housing, we provide links to a couple of housing resources on our additional resources page.

If you are absolutely unable to keep your cat, we recommend contacting one of several local no-kill shelters and explaining your situation. If your cat is friendly and tame, he/she has a good chance of being accepted if they are not already at capacity. Organizations to contact include:

If they cannot take them at the moment please check regularly since they are always placing cats into good homes and their status changes on a weekly basis.
I need to get my cat or dog fixed.

There are several organizations in the East Bay that offer low-cost spay/neuter:

If you have financial hardship and the above options do not work for you, we can often help with spay/neuter of cats. Please fill out our Spay/Neuter Assistance Request Form.

I’m looking for low-cost veterinary care for my cat.

The East Bay SPCA runs a full service veterinary clinic and a drop-in vaccine clinic. They also have a pet food pantry, hold periodic free veterinary outreach clinics in the East Bay, and have a medical fund for unexpected veterinary bills. Learn more about those programs here

PetVet Petfood holds weekly clinics with low-cost vaccines and basic veterinary care. Many pet food stores also hold periodic vaccine clinics in their stores.

Find more information on our Paying for Veterinary Care page.

I've lost my cat. Help!

We recommend following the detailed advice at Cats in the Bag.

If you send us a photo and the location your cat was last seen, we can also share the information with our network.


I’m interested in volunteering.

ICRA is always in need of dedicated volunteers. Please see our Volunteer page for a list of opportunities.

I want to donate to ICRA.

There are many ways you can give to ICRA. Monetary donations can be made on our Donate Now page and other ways to give can be found here.


I’m looking to adopt a companion cat.

ICRA has many wonderful kitties looking for homes. Go to our Adoption page to learn more about our adoption process.

I would like a “mouser” or garden cat, a cat for my business, or a cat for my barn or ranch.

ICRA has a handful of kitties that aren’t quite comfortable living with humans. For these cats, we seek a safe outdoor space with a human guardian willing to provide basic care. Learn more about our Garden Cat Program here.