pets' lives saved since becoming no-kill in
January 2002

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Richmond SPCA

Humane Center

2519 Hermitage Road
Richmond, VA 23220

Adoption Hours
Mon. 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Tue. - Fri. 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Sat. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sun. 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Lora Robins Gift Shop Hours
Mon. 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Tue. - Fri. 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Sat. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sun. 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Donation Drop Off Hours
Mon. 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tue. - Fri. 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sat. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sun. 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Susan M. Markel
Veterinary Hospital

Mon. - Fri. 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Closed Monday, February 18.

Admissions Hours
Mon. - Fri. by appointment.
Closed Monday, February 18.

Administrative Hours
Mon. - Fri. 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Closed Monday, February 18.
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All 50 states have anti-cruelty laws protecting cats and dogs, which apply to feral cats.

About Feral Cats

  • Feral (unsocialized) cats are present in urban, suburban and rural areas.
  • They are the offspring of abandoned and loosely-owned pet cats that were never spayed or neutered.
  • While feral cats are the same species as the house cats that make terrific companions, their behavior is very different since they are not socialized to humans.
  • Feral cats are fearful of contact with people, and a truly feral cat will avoid people entirely.
  • Their colonies inhabit residential and commercial areas because of the presence of shelter, food and water.
  • While they will flee from human contact, feral cats have adapted to living in close proximity to humans.
  • Conflict with these animals who share our environment can be prevented humanely. If you are the owner, resident or manager of a property with a colony of feral cats in residence, the most effective and humane course of action to reduce and humanely manage the colony is Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR).

Recommended Solution: Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR)

Programs of Trap-Neuter-Return are not only the compassionate, humane choice but also the most effective option as sterilization ends the reproductive cycle that grows the colony. How it works:

  • Volunteer caretakers humanely trap cats in a colony and bring them to a spay/neuter clinic, like the Richmond SPCA's, to be sterilized and vaccinated. At our Smoky's Spay/Neuter Clinic at the Susan M. Markel Veterinary Hospital, services for feral cats are performed for free.
  • The cats are spayed or neutered, vaccinated against rabies, examined by a veterinarian and given routine care while under anesthesia.
  • To easily identify cats already sterilized, each cat’s left ear is tipped.
  • The volunteer caretaker monitors the cats while they recover overnight before releasing them from the trap back to the only home they have known – the outdoor colony where they have been residing.
  • Volunteers continue to feed the cats to prevent foraging.
  • Nuisance behaviors, such as yowling during mating, fighting and territorial spraying, are diminished or eliminated once the cats are sterilized.
  • Vaccination for rabies prevents the threat of disease, keeping the cats healthy and the community safe.
  • Once all of the cats have been sterilized, the colony will naturally diminish over time as the cats cease breeding. The average lifespan of an outdoor cat is 2 years.

Click here to read a testimonial about Trap-Neuter-Return at work locally.

Not Recommended: Cat Removal 

Why it doesn't work:

  • Because they are not socialized to humans, feral cats are not typically adoptable. Therefore, removal to an animal control facility will nearly always  result in their being killed.
  • Removing the cats from the property will create what is known as a “vacuum effect.” The existing conditions – food, water and shelter – that allow the existing colony to survive in the area would draw new cats, repeating the process and contributing to the unnecessary death of more feral cats. For this reason, relocation of a colony to another property is also not recommended.
  • Colonies of feral cats can also be helpful in controlling rodent populations, which would increase should the cats be eliminated from the area.
  • Community members have demonstrated for years that they want colonies managed compassionately, and when businesses or residents advocate for feral cats’ removal, compassionate citizens become very vocal in order to protect the cats and their long-term health and happiness. They will not stand for an inhumane approach, and they will demand a humane approach. A public opinion survey, commissioned by Alley Cat Allies and published in September 2007, reveals that 81 percent of Americans believe it is more humane to leave a stray cat outdoors to live out its life than to have the cat caught and killed.

Other Recommendations for Property Owners and Managers 

  • Enlist concerned residents/employees to help with TNR 
  • Enforce spay/neuter requirement for renters
  • Require residents to keep pet cats indoors

Stray vs. Feral 

  • Not all free-roaming outdoor cats are feral cats. Many are pets who are loosely owned or allowed to roam outdoors; others have strayed from home and become lost or abandoned.
  • Truly feral cats have had little to no human contact. Often they were born outside and never lived with people. Those who were once pets have been on their own for so long that they have become self-sufficient and distrustful of humans.
  • The difference between ferals and strays may be determined by their tolerance, or lack thereof, of human contact.

Helpful Links

If you would like to speak with someone about a feral cat colony on your property or would like more information about starting a TNR program, please call 804-521-1312. If you are currently a feral cat caretaker and would like to make an appointment for spay/neuter or rabies boosters, please call our Clinic at 804-521-1330 ext. 5.