Your Questions Answered

“Community cats” – stray or unowned cats

You can help these cats through TNR (trap-neuter-return). Our strategy is to TNR adult cats while socializing and finding homes for any young kittens.

Get the cats fixed now. If you wait, one or two unfixed cats can quickly become a colony of cats!

Cats who have a notched or tipped ear are already spayed or neutered. Check here for picture examples.

Here is how ICRA can help you:

  • Step-by-step instructions
  • The loan of humane cat traps
  • Train you to trap cats
  • Low-cost or free spay/neuter appointments

Please fill out our Spay/Neuter Assistance Request Form.

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 them.

  1. Bring the cat to your local vet or animal shelter to scan for a microchip. A microchip may provide you with the owner’s contact info.
  2. 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 on Craigslist and Nextdoor.
  3. If you have one, check your neighborhood online listserve for lost cat notices.

After attempting to find the owner, look for help placing a friendly unowned cat. In addition to your local shelter, the following no-kill shelters and rescue groups may be able to assist. Take note that some shelters will only take cats that were found in their community.

If the cat is of an identifiable breed (e.g., Siamese or Maine Coon), there may be a group in your area that focuses on finding homes for such cats. Search the internet to find breed-specific rescues or groups. For example search “siamese rescue northern California.” 

ICRA generally cannot help find a new home for a friendly cat.

“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”).

Use TNR to Reduce the Number of Cats

Research shows 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 and the number of cats gradually decreases over time.

TNR addresses the underlying issue of cat overpopulation. If the cats you see now are removed, other cats will simply take their place. Cats will continue coming into the area and utilizing the same food resources. In addition, fixing cats reduces, if not eliminates, midnight fighting and howling.

Engage Your Neighbors

Talk to your neighbors about managing the community cats you see in your yard. Those same cats are probably also showing up in other yards, and perhaps are being fed there.

Ask your neighbors and find out:

  • Where the other sources of food might be.
  • How many cats there are.
  • If they will work with you to TNR your community cats.

ICRA will not remove unowned cats from your property. Community 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.

Ready to Tackle Your TNR Project

We will do our best to help you when you are ready to TNR the cats in your yard. Here is how ICRA can help you:

  • Step-by-step instructions
  • The loan of humane cat traps
  • Train you to trap cats
  • Low-cost or free spay/neuter appointments

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

Please fill out our Spay/Neuter Assistance Request Form.

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.

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, when space allows we can screen adopters, list them on our website, and show them at Petco.

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.

If the cat is not friendly, or you are not sure, we can loan you a humane trap. While at the vet, an unfixed cat can also be neutered at the same time. 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—lost animals may be injured and unable to make their way home. 

Please contact us at info@icraeastbay.org 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

Check out our resources if you are having trouble with behavioral problems or pet-friendly housing.

If you are absolutely unable to keep your cat, we recommend you first check out Rehome by Adopt-a-Pet.com and Petco Foundation.

You may also contact one of several local no-kill shelters and explain your situation. If your cat is friendly and tame, they have a good chance of being accepted if the shelter is not already at capacity.

Organizations to contact include: 

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.

Check out our page on Low-Cost Veterinary Care for the most up to date info on spay/neuter!

Note: 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.

Check out our page on Low-Cost Veterinary Care for the most up to date info on spay/neuter!

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

In the East Bay, we also recommend posting on Craigslist, Nextdoor, and any other neighborhood listservs.

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


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

Thank you for your support! Your donation saves lives and creates a better community for cats and people alike. 


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.