Cat Trap Fever

Austin Humane Society needs help taming feral cat population

A feral cat at the AHS clinic
A feral cat at the AHS clinic (Photo by Austin Humane Society)

Austin has cats – a lot of cats. And in the absence of an ordinance that requires spay/neuter of pets, there are a lot of reproducing cats out there, many of them stray and/or feral. Year in and year out, the large free-roaming cat population remains a big problem in the city of Austin, local animal welfare advocates say.

And when you consider how quickly cats reproduce – they mate during warm months (so, you know, most of the year) and a female can become pregnant while still nursing – two cute strays can become dozens in short order.

In an effort to curb Austin's feral cat population, the Austin Humane Society has since 2007 operated a free Trap-Neuter-Return program. T-N-R is a volunteer-led effort to trap strays and ferals, get them to the AHS clinic to be fixed (dewormed, given shots, and to have one ear "tipped" so that they can be identified from afar as fixed) and then returned to the streets, where they often live in colonies – groups of cats that volunteers generally continue to feed and to tend to for years.

Although there's no "kitty census," as AHS Executive Director Frances Jonon puts it, the large number of cats that have come to the AHS T-N-R program over the last five years suggests how big the problem is: In 2007, the T-N-R program tended to more than 1,500 cats; the next year that number jumped to 5,000. Next month, the AHS clinic will mark it's 25,000th feral cat surgery. "The problem," says Jonon, "is massive."

Indeed, as the AHS program (which fixes dozens of cats every week) and its many volunteers, march forward, they're asking for your help. The AHS is looking for volunteers to help trap 150 feral cats from around the city and to bring them to the group's shelter on Wednesday, July 25, for a large-scale T-N-R spay/neuter event. (The shelter has humane traps that it lends out for exactly this purpose, and the AHS staff is ready to help you learn to use them so that you can get with the program.)

Want to help? Contact Leticia Stivers, the AHS' feral-feline-whisperer – officially, the feral cat program supervisor – at 512/685-0111 or 512/968-7131. Your feline friends – and the birds and lizards in your neighborhood – will thank you.

More on free-roaming cats here. More on the AHS program here.

Got something to say? The Chronicle welcomes opinion pieces on any topic from the community. Submit yours now at

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Animal Welfare
Rooster Re-Coop
Rooster Re-Coop
Animal Services rehabs fighting roosters

Nina Hernandez, March 6, 2016

Austin Aquarium Manager Sent to Federal Shark Tank
Austin Aquarium Manager Sent to Federal Shark Tank
Covino gets a year behind bars

Jordan Smith, Dec. 4, 2013

More Animal Shelter
Woman Dies in Manor Dog Attack
Woman Dies in Manor Dog Attack
Six adult, mixed breeds are in quarantine at the Austin Animal Center

Nina Hernandez, June 16, 2016

Cats in Crisis
Cats in Crisis
Shelters full of felines waiting for forever homes

Jordan Smith, July 19, 2013

More by Jordan Smith
'Chrome Underground' Goes Classic Car Hunting
'Chrome Underground' Goes Classic Car Hunting
Motoreum's Yusuf & Antonio talk about the biz and their reality TV debut

May 22, 2014

APD Brass Shifts Up, Down, Across
APD Brass Shifts Up, Down, Across
Musical chairs at Downtown HQ

May 9, 2014


Austin Humane Society, AHS, animal shelter, animal welfare, feral cats, Leticia Stivers, Frances Jonon, spay/neuter ordinance, free-roaming cats

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle