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Cats Protection wants to work with communities to control cat numbers and make sure they are looked after – this will be good for the community and good for cats.

We can do this by keeping tabs on the strays, but we need your help.

Our Cat Watch project started in September 2016. The aim was to improve our understanding of the unowned cat population in urban areas and to work with and alongside communities to improve cat welfare

Our Cat Watch teams help communities by providing trap, neuter and return (TNR) services for community cats, returning them to their caretakers or rehoming friendly strays for who the street life is not suitable. All of the Cat Watch interventions aim to provide an element of social support to communities, unifying them over a shared cause, which has proven to help cats and people. Since the launch of Cat Watch we have received nearly 4,000 reports of stray cats across all Cat Watch areas.

Going forwards, the Cat Watch project has provided the much-needed foundation for understanding the free-roaming cat population in our cities and responding to their needs and the needs of their caretakers. Our project has now expanded into other wards of Nottingham, Luton and Liverpool, with the long-term aim of a citywide welfare approach to the community cats in our society.

Take a look at what Cat Watch has achieved - Read our Cat Watch report

Ways to support Cat Watch

  • find out more about Cat Watch in our latest news
  • ask your friends and family to do the same
  • keep an eye out for our community events and talks and other events we attend. All information is posted on Facebook.
  • follow us on social media to keep updated;

Cat Watch app

We’re asking you to take a picture of a stray cat if you see one, using the app. It’s quick and easy. Uploading a record of when and where you saw the stray cat will help Cats Protection know how many strays there are so we can help control numbers.

Once we know where the cats are, we will be able to help them by getting them health checked and neutered to stop them producing more kittens.

Stray cats suitable for rehoming will be taken into care for adoption as soon as possible. We will ensure we work closely with communities, making sure residents are fully informed at all times. Look out for our teams in your area.

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How can strays be reported?

Strays can be reported via the Cat Watch Facebook groups or by calling or texting a member of the team using the details below:

Everton, Liverpool – Rachel Follini – 07709 245 976 – Facebook group

Breckside, Liverpool – Hannah Wong – 07776 667 905

Nottingham – Amy Carlin – 07896 686 998 – Bulwell Cat Watch page

Broxtowe, Strelley, Bilborough - Facebook page

Nottingham - Eve Moon – 07393 799 137     

Biscot and Dallow, Luton – Charlotte Travers – 07968 470 323 - Facebook group

How do I know if a cat is not owned?

Cats can be pets, stray, cared for by the community or feral. The descriptions below will help you to identify cats living in your community that are not pets.


An abandoned pet cat which was socialised as a kitten and previously cared for by a human, typically in a home, but is now free-living. Some abandoned pet cats may be too scared to be handled and may be showing signs of poor condition. Find out more

Community cat

A cat that is free-living outside but is not attached to a particular household or owner. They may receive some degree of care, usually in the provision of food. They tend not to be provided with veterinary care. Some people in communities feel the cats ‘belong’ to the community and are very attached to them, even though no individual person is responsible for the cats’ care.

These cats can vary in their level of socialisation; some are truly feral whereas others may have had some degree of socialisation and may be comfortable only with those individuals that provide food on a regular basis. Others may fall under the category of ‘stray’ and are abandoned, fully-socialised pet cats. If this is the case, the cat will display friendly behaviours and seek out human attention when food is not being offered. Often however, community cats do not cope well with the rehoming process due to a lack of full socialisation during the crucial period as kittens. Where this is the case, the aim will be to trap, neuter and return them to their original site.

Stray cats eating on a roof

Feral cats

The word 'feral' means members of a domesticated species that have reverted to living as wild animals. While they are often mistaken for stray cats, ferals have little or no contact with humans and cannot be tamed. As they have had no positive human interaction during the socialisation period they are fearful of humans. They are the offspring of either stray or feral cats. They behave like and should be considered as wild animals. Attempts to touch or handle them can be dangerous and will compromise their emotional welfare. Read more about identifying a cat as stray or feral

How we help the cats

Every year Cats Protection helps around 20,000 feral/community cats. Research shows that TNR is the most effective way of managing free-roaming cat populations. Culling or removing cats does not work due to the ‘vacuum effect’. This refers to the phenomenon of new cats entering into territories which have become vacant, and therefore repopulating the area. A stable, managed population of neutered cats will prevent this from happening.

Stray cat in a trap

How you can help community/feral cats

Despite their wild nature, feral cats still need a level of care. With many ferals living in colonies, the cat population can grow quickly. Neutering and returning the cats to their colony stops continual breeding. While most ferals are resourceful when it comes to finding food, it is good to keep an eye on them during the winter. If you suspect a feral cat is sick or injured, they can be trapped and taken to the vet.

Provide them with food, water and shelter

If you are providing food for the cats it’s best to feed them in the same place and at the same time each day. Also make sure your feeding area is somewhere appropriate that is safe for the cats and is dry and shaded.

As with pet cats, cats living outdoors need access to clean water. In the winter it’s important to make sure this doesn’t freeze over.

During the colder months an outdoor shelter can really help protect the cat from the elements. You can buy outdoor shelters online Outdoor Cat Kennel/Shelter - cat house or why not make one yourself? If making one it’s important to make sure that it’s waterproof and rainproof and it’s best to place it somewhere that’s sheltered and safe for the cats.

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