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Did you find a stray cat? - The shelter is not currently taking in healthy stray cats. 

If you think you have found a sick or injured cat, please contact the shelter 

Is entering an animal shelter always the best option for a cat?

There is a robust population of “community cats,” not just in Hayward but in all surrounding cities as well. These cats are typically un-owned or semi-owned cats that free-roam and live in Hayward. A tipped ear indicates that the cat has been through a “Trap-Neuter-Return” program, known as TNR, and indicates the cat is a community cat.


In our City, we assist with TNR of our community cats: For Information on our TNR program and how it works, click HERE


 A TNR program is to avoid overpopulation of our community cat population and reduce behaviors like yowling and fighting.

These community cats fall on a behavioral spectrum of how socialized they are with people. Some of these cats are completely avoidant of people and flee when approached; on the other side of the spectrum, they may come up to residents for feeding and petting. Community cats are quite savvy navigating their home territory and may even already have residents or compassionate citizens who feed them and/or their colony of other community cats.

  • Most of these cats live healthy lives outdoors and once brought into an animal shelter or confined in a home, may develop behavioral (and even medical) issues.

  • If you find a cat outdoors without a tipped ear and without proof of ownership, then contact our shelter to schedule a TNR appointment for that cat rather than bringing it into our shelter.

  • Unless a community cat needs immediate medical intervention they should not be brought into our shelter.

A community cat or owned cat who is allowed to freeroam is  far more likely to be reunited with their owners if they remain in the neighborhood where they were found than if they are removed and taken to a shelter.  Stray holds range from 72 hours to 4 days, and in that time owners may not even be aware their cat is missing (especially if the cat is indoor/outdoor.) 

Although not everyone enjoys community cats in their neighborhood, it is important to remember that for most cats, there are better, more appropriate alternatives that will better serve the cat, community, and shelter than turning it into a shelter. To talk about options for a cat you have located, please contact the shelter. 

Did you find a stray kitten? Click HERE

Community cats (Cats who free roam in neighborhoods.)

How to prevent cats from entering your yard, and for more information from UC Davis on community cats (TNR)  click here 

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What Is Trap-Neuter-Return?

Trap-Neuter-Return is the only humane and effective approach to community cat populations. Here are the three basic steps to this lifesaving process:

1. Trap: Humanely trap all the cats in a colony. A colony is a group of cats living outdoors together.

2. Neuter (or spay): Take the cats in their traps to a veterinarian or clinic to be neutered, vaccinated, and eartipped (the universal symbol of a neutered and vaccinated cat. Learn more at

3. Return: After the cats recover, return them to their outdoor home where they were trapped.

Watch videos of cats being returned and how to do Trap-Neuter-Return at

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Why Trapping and bringing cars into the shelter doesn't work. 

Have you heard of the vacuum effect? 

The Vacuum Effect has been documented worldwide in many species. Animal control’s traditional approach has been to have community members trap and then bring in community cats to the shelter. While this may temporarily reduce the number of community cats in a given area, it is ultimately counterproductive, as the population of cats rebounds. Due to the Vacuum Effect, untrapped cats continue to breed, and other cats move into the newly available territory.


The Vacuum Effect occurs when a portion of an animal population is permanently removed from their home range. The result is a temporary dip in population levels. The initial population lived in that location because there were resources such as shelter, food, and water. Once emptied, this still resource-rich habitat inevitably attracts other members of the same species from neighboring areas. They move in to use the same resources that sustained the first group. Both the new individuals and any remaining members of the original population then reproduce. What’s more, they reproduce at higher rates to fill the habitat and take advantage of the available resources.

Before long, the area fills back up to capacity again, as if the animals were never removed at all.

The Vacuum Effect occurs across many species, including foxes, mice, coyotes, voles, possums, and badgers. Of course, it also occurs for cats.

Colonies that are involved in TNR diminish in size over time. TNR quickly stabilizes feral cat populations by instantly ending reproduction and by removing socialized cats from the colony.

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If you are interested in becoming a TNR volunteer, please email the shelter at:


Additional information and resources:

Alley Cat Allies

Fix our ferals


Kitten Lady's video:

"If you see cats outside...WATCH THIS

Kitten Lady's video:

"Why are some cats FERAL?"

Kitten Lady's video:

"Trap-Neuter-Return FAQ!

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