Stray/Feral Cats & Kittens
Contra Costa Animal Services (CCAS) prioritizes public safety and humane care for cats while providing services for cats in the community through our Community Cat Program. Following the recommendations of leading national organizations such as the UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program (KSMP), National Animal Care & Control Association (NACA), ASPCA, American Association of Feline Practitioners, and Million Cat Challenge, we do not admit healthy free-roaming cats. Many cats found out and about are simply pet cats allowed outdoors, which is legal in our community. Even where cats have strayed from home, a cat’s best chance of being reunited with his family is to remain where he is instead of coming in to a shelter. By focusing on admitting only sick and injured cats, we are able to provide the care they need and reduce euthanasia of animals at the shelter.
Because of the powerful “vacuum effect,” removing a cat from its environment without also removing the food source has been linked to an increase in cat populations by as much as 200%. Community Cat Programs involving spay/neuter and returning the cat to its outdoor home, on the other hand, end the breeding cycle and stabilize free-roaming cat populations, while also eliminating or reducing nuisance behaviors such as roaming, fighting/yowling, and spraying/marking by male cats. Left in their outdoor homes, cats also provide beneficial natural rodent control.
Contra Costa County residents who would like to help stabilize the community cat population and help healthy cats/kittens over 12 weeks of age can make an appointment for no-cost community cat medical service, which includes spay/neuter surgery, vaccination, and microchip through the CCAS Community Cat Program. Thanks for taking the time to make a difference in your community—CCAS is here to help you!
Community Cat Program
CCAS’ Community Cat Program empowers residents to help stabilize the free-roaming cat population in their neighborhoods, while also ensuring the public health and safety of the people and animals in their community. We also provide humane traps to help community members trap feral cats and kittens.
CCAS offers FREE spay and neuter surgeries, vaccinations and microchips to local trappers and citizens who trap feral cats or find friendly, healthy free-roaming cats that will later be returned to their community. If you wish to bring in community cats for spay/neuter surgery, please note the following:
Please visit our Spay/Neuter Clinic page before bringing a cat to ensure that our clinic is open on that day.
Community cat spay/neuter surgeries are performed Tuesday-Friday by appointment.
Drop off is between 9-9:30am Tuesday-Friday only. Pickup is the same day beginning at 3:30-4:00p.m.
All cats, friendly or feral/unsocial, brought in for participation in the CCAS Community Cat Program must be in a trap, one cat per trap. (**Cats in carriers WILL NOT be accepted.**)
We are able to take 8 cats total per day from the community.
Only 2 cats per person/address per day will be accepted.
Kittens must be at least 12 weeks old and at least 3lbs in weight.
What are community cats?
Community cats, sometimes called feral, stray, or outdoor cats, can be friendly or unsocial, but they aren’t lost: they are free-roaming cats who live—at least part of the time—outside. They share our neighborhoods and find shelter in yards, alleys, parking lots, and porches. Community cats may have one or more compassionate caregivers who help provide food and shelter, and, as a result, they often have more than one name.
How do I know if a cat visiting my yard is lost or a community cat?
It’s easy to assume that a friendly free-roaming cat is lost or abandoned, when in fact the cat knows exactly where it is! A cat who looks healthy with good body condition and coat is very rarely lost. If the cat looks healthy, please put it back where you found it/leave it where it is. Cats are 10–50 times more likely to be reunited with their owners if they stay in the neighborhood where they are found (instead of being removed from the area and taken to an animal shelter).
You might also ask around your neighborhood to see if anyone recognizes the cat, or use this paper collar template to help determine if the cat is owned. Refer to this I Found a Cat flowchart for more guidance.
How can I help kittens?
Thanks for looking out for the most vulnerable animals in our community! In most cases, kittens don’t actually need to be rescued—a kitten’s best chance of survival is with her mother. This flowchart will help you make decisions that increase kittens’ chances of thriving. To determine the age of a kitten, visit Alley Cats Allies kitten progression page. Follow these steps to help:
Step 1: Assess the kittens to confirm mom is providing care.
Are the kittens plump, clean, warm, and quiet? Mom is doing her job and likely just out getting dinner. It’s safe to leave her kittens in their nest. When kittens are 12 weeks old, they can be spayed/neutered at no cost through the CCAS Community Cat Program.
Are the kittens skinny, dirty, cold, or noisy? Mom might not be around. Time to help her out and intervene. Review our Finding Motherless Kittens document and advance to Step 2.
If kittens appear sick or injured and you’re unable to get them care through a local veterinary clinic, call 925-608-8400.
Can’t care for the kittens? Be a hero and keep kittens safe in a home by finding someone who can foster until they are old enough to be spayed/neutered and adopted.
How can I discourage community cats from entering my yard?
Good question! Removing one cat simply means that more will eventually come if we can’t get to the root cause of the situation. If you do not want cats in your yard, make sure there is not a source of food or shelter for the cat. Spay and neuter eliminates many nuisance issues including spraying, fighting, yowling and unwanted kittens. Talk to neighbors to see if anyone is feeding and work with them to get cats trapped and spayed/neutered. If a neighbor is feeding excessively and the cats are not spayed/neutered or there is a health code issue, please contact us at 925-608-8400.
For more tips on reducing nuisance issues and humanely deterring cats from your yard, visit How to Live with Cats in Your Neighborhood.
How do I report an abandoned cat?
If you are a property owner or manager and a cat has been abandoned by their owner, a former tenant, please contact the shelter at 925-608-8400 before bringing the cat to the shelter.
For more information on additional community resources for spaying and neutering, see below:
The documents below will provide you with information on caring for a colony of feral cats, along with how to trap the cats.