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Community Cat Initiative

Our Community Cat Initiative works to improve the lives of free-roaming or feral cats within Montgomery County .

This program is a catch-and-release spay/neuter program designed to reduce the number of outdoor cats humanely, effectively and ethically. Outdoor cats—collectively known as “community cats”—comprise unidentified stray (aloof to friendly) and feral (wild and unfriendly) cats.

Spread the word about the Community Cat Initiative. Please consider offering your time to help in the trapping and transporting of community cats and assisting in educating the public about both community cats and this initiative.

To participate in the Community Cat Initiative, contact us at (937) 268-PETS (7387) or email

Trap-Neuter-Return program

Euthanasia does not help control population. Cat populations will rebound and grow as long as there is adequate food-supply. Cats must be sterilized so that new cats cannot be produced.

This program lowers the number of free-roaming community cats through sterilization rather than by euthanasia.

  • We accept unowned, unidentified stray or feral cats from city residents, city employees or volunteers, as long as we have space available. Cats without identification (collar, tag, tattoo, etc.) are considered “unowned.”
  • We will examine each cat for identification, health, age and claw status.
  • We will vaccinate (rabies), treat for fleas, spay/neuter, and surgically “tip” the left ear of every cat to be returned. The ear tip is a universal sign that the cat has been spayed or neutered.
  • We will make efforts to find the owners of cats brought to us that have identification.
  • We will put stray, adoptable cats into our adoption program whenever there is space available.

We do not euthanize stray, healthy, unidentified cats when our adoption program is full. 

Other stray, unidentified cats that are wild (feral) or friendly will be spayed or neutered, vaccinated, ear-tipped, treated for fleas and released back to the community that they know, provided that:

  • They have their claws.
  • They are not kittens.
  • They are not injured or sick.
  • They are not senior cats who may struggle to survive.
  • They are healthy and have a body mass indicating that they have a food source.

Our goal is to end the senseless euthanasia of healthy cats and control cat overpopulation through education and spay/neuter initiatives such as the Community Cat Initiative.

To safely catch a stray, free-roaming cat, please use a live trap. Live traps are available for a small rental fee at the Humane Society of Greater Dayton. 



I found a Friendly Stray Cat, What Do I Do?

Please view our Lost and Found pets page for more information on how to help lost pets.

What is the Difference Between a Stray Cat and a Feral Cat?

General differences in appearance and behavior include:

Stray Cats:

  • May approach you
  • May approach food right away
  • May be vocal
  • May look disheveled
  • May be seen at all hours of the day

Feral Cats:

  • Will not approach you
  • Will wait until you move away before approaching food
  • Will be silent
  • Will appear groomed
  • Usually nocturnal

Why Return Feral Cats to the Community?

When you remove a cat from the community you are not eliminating the nuisances in tact cats can bring. Other cats will fill in the void where those cats that are removed leave. This is called a vacuum effect. These cats will continue to reproduce and continue to be part of the overpopulation problem. When you return cats to where they were trapped, you now have a sterilized cat. They continue to use the resources they have, but they are unable to reproduce. Plus, by spaying or neutering these community cats, you will see a lower number of problematic issues such as fighting, spraying or yowling. Euthanizing healthy, feral cats is never an option at the Humane Society of Greater Dayton!

Will Community Cats Suffer if we Return Them?

Only cats that are thriving are returned to their environments. If the cat appears healthy and has good body condition, we know it has found a food source and shelter to thrive. For those that appear unable to return, we find alternative placement through programs such as our Barn Cat Program.

What Should I Do if I Find a Cat with a Tipped Ear?

A tipped ear indicates that the cat has already be spayed or neutered and vaccinated, so you can simply leave that cat alone. Ear-tipped cats that are surrendered will be returned to the community. If no ear tip is present, this cat is most likely not spayed or neutered. You can help by participating in the Humane Society of Greater Dayton’s Community Cat Initiative program to get the cat spayed or neutered and vaccinated for rabies.

What are the Benefits of Spaying or Neutering a Cat?

  • Lowers the number of unwanted litters
  • Lowers the wandering, aggression and territorial in-heat cats can display
  • Reduces the incidences of infection and tumors
  • Eliminates a cat’s heat cycles.

What About Cold Winters?

It is hard for any of us to imagine an animal out in the cold bitter temperatures of winter. However we know that cats have adapted and managed to survive in our community year-round. Similar programs to our Trap-Neuter-Return have been implemented in all types of climates across the U.S. and Canada. To hep battle some of the cold weather, our staff and volunteers make cat shelters to distribute to cat colonies throughout the community. Learn how you can volunteer to help make these by emailing


How Can I Help? 

Volunteer! Cat overpopulation is not an organizational issue, it is a community-wide issue. Please consider volunteering your time to our program. If you can’t give your time, please consider giving a monetary donation to help with our program’s supplies and resources. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, your generosity helps fund 100% of our programs and services. You can also donate in-kind items to the program including:

  • Pet Carriers
  • Havahart Live Cat Traps
  • Disposable Dishes
  • Gently Used Linens
  • Canned Cat Food
  • Tarps

More about the stray cat solution

  1. There are an estimated 50,000 free-roaming community cats in Montgomery County, Ohio.
  2. It is estimated that only 2.5 percent of those cats are spayed or neutered. This means that 48,750 outdoor cats in Montgomery County are not spayed or neutered and can reproduce.
  3. The cat population (like other outdoor-animal populations) rises to the level of a food source. That means that if there is more than enough food outside (mice, rats, birds, people feeding outdoor cats, etc.), cats increase their numbers. If there is not enough food, then the population decreases. The cat population—roughly 50,000 in Montgomery County—seeks a balance with the amount of food available.
  4. If cats are taken off the streets (via adoption or euthanasia), there is an “unclaimed” food source available. This is called the “vacuum effect.” With so many cats able to reproduce very quickly (two litters per year, with four to six kittens per litter), their population number rebounds every breeding season.
  5. The only effective way to decrease the outdoor cat population responsibly is through sterilization (spays/neuters) of outdoor cats so that outdoor kittens are not born.

More Services

Be a hero,
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Group 274
$25 Donation

Helps with food and other vital supplies for homeless pets

Group 275
$50 Donation

Can provide medical care for a sick and injured animal

Group 276
$75 Donation

Can support rescuing
at-risk pets

Group 277
$100 Donation

Can provide spay/neuter surgeries to control the pet population

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