Free-roaming Cats

The MSPCA-Angell recognizes that the issues surrounding outdoor cats have become more complex and therefore require multiple approaches.  At times it can be very difficult for a person to easily determine if a cat seen outdoors is a lost cat in need, an abandoned cat, a neighbor’s cat that is allowed outside or a cat that is part of a free-roaming managed colony.

The MSPCA-Angell believes that the safest way to manage cats is to keep them indoors to protect them from contagious disease, negative human interaction, dangers such as being injured by a car, and to reduce interactions with wildlife and other domestic animals. However, the MSPCA-Angell recognizes that there is a significant number of cats that are allowed to be outside for various reasons and therefore require specialized approaches of management to improve their safety and to prevent them from contributing to the homeless animal population.

Furthermore the MSPCA-Angell believes that unless the environment is deemed to be unsafe for the cats, Trap, Neuter, Vaccinate, Return (TNVR) programs are one of the most effective ways to manage feral cat populations, and may also be appropriate for socialized outdoor cats in some cases.

The MSPCA-Angell believes that companion cats that are allowed to go outside should be protected by:

  • Having identification such as a collar and tag and/or a microchip;
  • Being vaccinated against rabies and other feline diseases;
  • Being spayed or neutered.

The MSPCA-Angell believes that un-owned cats that live outdoors permanently, such as feral cats, should:

  • Be spayed/neutered;
  • Be vaccinated for rabies and other feline diseases;
  • Have their left ear tipped to visually identify them as sterilized and vaccinated;
  • Be provided with access to shelter, food and water.

Therefore, the MSPCA-Angell will:

  1. Educate the public about identification, vaccination and sterilization of cats.
  2. Educate the public about the best way to care for their cat or neighborhood cats.
  3. Provide spay/neuter and vaccination programs aimed at reducing the population of unwanted cats.
  4. Provide permanent identification, such as microchips.
  5. Support the practice of TNVR for feral cats whenever appropriate.


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