About North Jersey
The greatness of a nation and its moral progress
can be judged by the way its animals are treated.
- Mahatma Gandhi
If a cat you don't know starts hanging around your neighborhood, you should take the following non-violent actions based on what you want the cat to do.
Before you feed a stray cat, please consider that feeding a stray is not always a good idea.
Try to identify which type of cat you have (lost, feral, abandoned).
What you can do to help stray or community cats?
Ask around to see if the cat's owner is looking for him or her. Check social media and lost pet websites in your city or county to see if a lost cat matching the description of this new cat has been reported missing.
If the cat is friendly, check the cat for a microchip. Most local veterinarians will scan a chip for free. If you're in North Jersey, reach out to NJ STRAYS at to find a microchip scanning location near you.
If the cat is friendly but does not have a microchip, report your found cat to social media lost pet groups, like the NJ STRAYS Lost and Found Pets of North Jersey Project Facebook page. If nobody claims the friendly cat, contact a cat rescue group or No-Kill shelter near you to find a safe place for the cat.
If the cat is not fixed, refer the cat to a TNVR program near you. You can also try finding a home for the cat on your own after spaying or neutering: talk to friends and family members, or report the cat to a nearby veterinarian. Bringing the cat to animal control or a shelter that does not support the No-Kill movement is not helpful: shelter staff will likely euthanize the cat after the legally mandating waiting period.
If the cat is NOT friendly, do not feed him or her and do not bring the cat into your home, unless you have a TNVR (Trap Neuter Vaccinate Return) plan. If you feed stray cats, they will come back to you and you will likely get more of them in your neighborhood. A cat will not linger where there is no incentive to be found, such as food, shelter or mate.
If the cat is a kitten, do not take it. Monitor its location for its mother. Kittens should remain with their mothers until they are weened (about eight weeks old). If the mother does not appear after several days, you can treat the kitten as you would an adult cat.
Remember: if you feed or take a community cat inside, you are responsible for it. In doing so, you are limiting the cat's ability to fend for itself as a stray on the streets.
Know the Difference
Not all who roam are lost!
Indoor / Outdoor Cat
Pet owners sometimes let their cats roam outside. Domestic indoor / outdoor cats may hang around your neighborhood because they are attracted by smells or other animals. Some are friendly to humans while others are not. A cat that has not been neutered might hang around other cats looking to mate.
A missing cat is looking for its way back home. Indoor cats will need help getting home because they do not have outdoor survival skills. You can usually tell a lost cat from a roaming domestic indoor / outdoor cat by it's attitude. It will likely appear anxious or confused, but will otherwise be in good health with a healthy weight and coat.
An abandoned domestic cat will be on the lookout for a human caretaker. If you find that an undernourished, friendly cat keeps returning to your yard, he or she might be trying to find a new home.
Community / Outdoor Cat
Cats born on the street are part of our community: all they know is the great outdoors, and they've learned how to live and survive with little to no help from humans. Sometimes, these cats are completely feral (wild and unfriendly), and other times these cats are willing to interact with the humans who feed them.
More About TNVR
The United States is overpopulated by stray cats due to their fast reproduction - a female cat can have more than three litters in a single year! There are too many strays cats for them all to be safe and our human communities comfortable. The reproduction cycle will continue until all cats are spayed or neutered.
Not all cats are a fit for indoor life, cages or small enclosures - but their lives are still important! There are not enough No-Kill shelters, rescues or sanctuaries to accommodate expanding stray cat populations. However, TNR and TNVR programs can help reduce community cat populations.
NJ STRAYS supports community cat programs and TNVR initiatives to reduce the reproduction of cats. This, in turn, contributes to our No-Kill mission by reducing the number of cats entering the animal shelter system where euthanasia is all too common. Trap, neuter, vaccinate and return is the most humane solution for an outdoor or homeless cat when there is no adoption option.
Is Your Stray Cat Ready for Our Barncat Relocation Project?
If the cat you found is in danger due to human or location threat, he or she may be eligible for our Barn and Outdoor Cat Relocation program. However, NJ STRAYS Barncats must be fixed and vaccinated in order to enter the program. We encourage you to work with a TNR or TNVR group to spay or neuter the cat BEFORE contacting our Barncats project, and then only as a last resort.
Feeding Stray Cats: Read This FIRST
It's a wonderful feeling to help animals in need. However, feeding stray cats is actually worse than not unless you are ready to spay or neuter the cats. Feeding the cats does not help control the stray pet population. Plus, the food will attract other cats and soon you will have a cat colony on your hands.
Feeding Without Fixing Is Not the Responsible Choice
NJ STRAYS supports TNVR programs and leaving community cats undisturbed because:
Some municipalities prohibit community cat feeding
Feeders sometimes run out of money or are forced to leave the area where the cats are fed
Neighbors might not like having a nearby cat colony and might harm the cats or ask animal control officers to do the same
Many cat feeders don't leave instructions for who should feed the cats in the event that something happens to them
Feeding stray cats might seem like a kind thing to do, but it comes with a HUGE responsibility: the health, safety and vet care of that cat! Feeding cats inhibits their ability to find food without human assistance, thereby damaging their street survival skills.