Willowick FAQs

Does Willowick have a feral cat problem?

No, we don’t, especially when compared to other cities. And we want to make sure that it stays that way. There are, however, a few neighborhoods with cat colonies (a colony is a group of cats living together) ranging from two felines to more than 10.

Where do these cats come from?

Unfortunately, the majority of these animals are former pets. We do know that cats (as well as dogs, guinea pigs, and rabbits…) have been left to fend for themselves after foreclosures or evictions in Willowick. There are also instances of improper breeding practices, hoarding, and kind-hearted feeders that have not had success in catching these cats and providing spay/neuter and vaccination care. Two cats can quickly turn into 10 or more.

How do you help?

We are not a rescue group, nor do we take any funds from the city of Willowick. In fact, we save the city and county money. We are solely focused on low-cost spay/neuter programs and vaccination (depending on financial circumstances, it may be no-cost), trapping assistance so felines can get to a vet quickly, and TNR colony management advice (including best practices). We want to prevent problems and help Willowick citizens – as well as the cats that call Willowick home – enjoy life together.

How quickly can you help?

All calls and emails to the group will be answered within 24 hours. Trapping and sterilization does take time, so be patient.

Won’t this program mean people will dump cats in Willowick or simply abandon them?

Not anymore than it’s happening already. Although dumping and animal abandonment are illegal, it is tough to catch and prosecute people. Be aware that programs like Willowick Community Cats actually reduce the number of “dumped” or abandoned animals in the city since group members are aware of existing issues and are taking steps to ensure that animals are altered, vaccinated, and being cared for properly.

I have been a caregiver for abandoned cats in Willowick for years, do I need to contact you?

The city, as well as Willowick Community Cats, strongly, encourage you to contact us. That way you are offered the protections of the sponsoring humane group. Willowick Community Cats operates under the ordinance 505.19 (b)(2).

Any animal welfare organization registered with the City to promote animal care through a Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) Program in which feral and stray cats are trapped, sterilized, and vaccinated against Rabies, ear tipped, and thereafter released to a qualified caregiver sponsored by and under the supervision of a registered animal welfare organization.

 We do report to the city on existing cat colonies (that we know of) to inform officials about how well these colonies are being managed – and how well TNR is working. We never share anyone’s name or home address – only the street location. We know that TNR works well in terms of population control and good neighbor relations. So, any help you can give us for our report is greatly appreciated. Since we are a non-profit, we need to show our success in TNR management to get grant money. 

Click here for more information

Colony Registration Form

My neighbor has been feeding stray cats, and I’m sick of it. Don’t I have any rights?

Please contact us.    
Nuisance behaviors like yowling, spraying, and roaming are dramatically reduced when cats are sterilized. Proper management of a feral colony requires more than feeding. It also requires shelter, appropriate feeding schedules, litter management, and good neighbor relations. Though we are not in the business of settling neighbor disputes, we can say that proper colony management goes a long way in reducing any neighbor problems.     Be aware that even if you don’t like cats, once the animals that are in your neighborhood are sterilized, they PREVENT other cats from moving in. To learn more about this phenomenon click here.

My neighbor has been feeding cats and I don’t have a problem with it. However, I think he might need some help. Can I contact you?

Absolutely. That’s why we are here. If you have a good relationship with your neighbor (and we bet you do) please tell him to contact us. Again, we are here to help, not penalize anyone for their kindness.

I found a cat and/or kitten(s) outside, what do I do?

It is important to trap feral kittens and, whenever possible, foster and socialize them until they are old enough to be adopted. Click here for more information.

Contact Willowick Community Cats. We would be happy to help.

What is a neighborhood cat?

Neighborhood, or Community cats, generally come in three varieties.

Friendly cats who appear well fed and groomed and are probably pets whose caretakers allow them outdoors. Some may even wear collars and identification tags. If they look healthy and they’re not bothering you, the best thing to do for these cats is nothing. Don’t befriend them or feed them unless you want them coming around more often!                                              

Stray cats are cats that have lost their homes, but are socialized to people. Often, they can be adopted into homes, but they can become feral as human contact dwindles. They can re-develop strong bonds with their caregivers.

A feral cat: has either never had contact with humans or contact with humans has diminished over time. She is not socialized to people. Most feral cats are not likely to ever become lap cats or enjoy living indoors. However, these cats also can develop strong bonds with their caregivers.

What is an eartip?

We use the word “eartip” to describe when a small portion of the tip of a feral cat’s ear is surgically removed during neuter surgery, to denote that the cat has been neutered and vaccinated. Eartipping is done while the cat is anesthetized and is not painful for the cat.

Eartipping is the most effective way to identify sterilized feral cats from a distance, to make sure they are not trapped or undergo surgery a second time.

How does TNR benefit the community?

TNR helps the community by stabilizing the population of the feral colony, and over time, reducing it. At the same time, nuisance behaviors such as spraying, excessive noisemaking, and fighting are largely eliminated, and no more kittens are born. Yet, the benefit of natural rodent control is continued. TNR also helps the community’s animal welfare resources by reducing the number of kittens that would end up in their shelters.

Why doesn’t removing feral cats from an area work?

Animal control’s traditional approach for feral cats – catch and kill – is endless and cruel, and it does not keep an area free of cats. Cats choose to reside in a location for two reasons: there is a food source (intended or not) and shelter. Because of a phenomenon called the vacuum effect, when cats are removed from a location, survivors of the catch and kill effort and new cats who have moved in breed to capacity. Cats have been living outside alongside people for 10,000 years – a fact that cannot be changed.

What is relocation and why doesn’t it work?

Many communities have rounded up colonies of feral cats either for euthanasia or to relocate them to another area. This never works. Feral cats are very connected with their territory. They are familiar with its food sources, places that offer – shelter, resident wildlife, other cats in the area and potential threats to their safety – all things that help them survive. Even when done “correctly” relocation efforts are rarely successful because the cats won’t stay. It is impossible to remove all of the cats and it only takes one female and one male to begin reproducing the colony. It frees up resources that allow new cats to move in.

I don’t want cats in my yard. How can I deter cats and peacefully live with them in my neighborhood?

Thank you for searching out peaceful solutions to living with cats! It’s important to understand outdoor cat behaviors and what draws cats to certain areas. Please refer to our guide for living with outdoor cats Click here for deterrents

How do I care for stray and feral cats?

The number one priority when discovering an individual cat or a colony of cats is to safely and humanely trap them and see that they are sterilized and vaccinated. This ensures that the cats will live longer, healthier lives. Females will not get pregnant or need to nurse, and males will not fight or prowl for mates. Kittens and cats who are friendly to humans can be adopted into homes.

Click here for colony care guidelines

How do I deal with difficult neighbors?

To help your cats be better neighbors, keep in mind that kindness and patience are key. 

Here are some pointers for dealing with difficult neighbors:

Establish a friendly relationship with the people living near a feral cat colony. Present information in a reasonable, professional manner and address individual complaints by listening patiently. Always maintain a constructive, problem-solving attitude. Explain diplomatically that the cats have lived at the site for a long time and that they have been or will be sterilized, which will cut back on annoying behaviors. Explain that if the present colony is removed, the problems will recur with new cats.

If you need help, call us.