Shelter-Neuter Return Program


Denver Animal Protection, along with several animal welfare community organizations, have launched a Shelter-Neuter-Return (SNR) program to help combat the community cat overpopulation in Denver.

How To Help Community Cats

Cats in your neighborhood are often community cats. The difference between pet cats and community cats is that community cats are often feral.  Feral cats have had little or no contact with humans and are fearful of people and cannot be adopted. These cats do have a home: the outdoors. There is a simple way you can help community cats: Shelter-Neuter-Return (SNR).

SNR is the only method proven to be humane and effective at controlling feral cat population growth. By using SNR, the community cats in a colony are trapped, neutered and then returned to their territory by one of our release partners, such as PawsCo and Metro Denver CAT, where caretakers provide them with regular food and shelter. This program ends reproduction, stabilizes community cat populations, improves individual cats’ lives, and saves more shelter cats that are unsocial.

Quick Facts

  • If you stop feeding them, community cats will not go away. They will simply look for another food source.
  • Simply removing community cats isn’t the solution. New cats move in or survivors breed to capacity.
  • Community cats help control the rodent population; however, they do not cause wildlife depletion.
  • Colony sizes decrease over time by an average of about 66%.
  • Behaviors and stresses associated with mating— pregnancy, yowling, spraying and fighting—stop, which are the major complaints from people.
  • Young kittens who can still be socialized, as well as friendly adults, are placed in foster care and eventually adopted out to good homes.

Tips to Keep Community Cats Off Your Property

  • Keep tight lids on your trash cans.
  • Physically block or seal the location where cats are entering with chicken wire or lattice.
  • Cover exposed ground in flower beds with large attractive river rocks to prevent cats from digging.
  • Scatter fragrances that deter cats: fresh orange and lemon peels, coffee grounds, vinegar, and scented oil (lavender, lemongrass, citronella or eucalyptus).

What to Do If You Find Feral Cats

  • Denver Animal Shelter does not assist in feral trapping. For trapping assistance or other questions regarding feral cats or kittens, contact Metro Denver CAT at 1-844-DEN-CATS or visit
  • If a feral cat has a tipped ear, do not trap it. That is a marker the cat has already been spay/neutered.
  • If you find a litter of kittens, do not bring them to the shelter. Contact Metro Denver CAT at 1-844-DEN-CATS for assistance so the mother and kittens can be trapped together.
  • All trapped cats brought to Denver Animal Shelter must have an address of where they came from so that we are certain they are returned to a food source.

Read the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Position Statement.