Frequently Asked Questions
(FAQ)

Need more information about Feral Affairs Network?

Wondering about FAN’s adoption process? Curious about TNR? Or looking for helpful information about caring for a cat? Our FAQ (frequently asked questions) will help guide you to the answers you seek. And maybe a few you hadn’t thought of!

About FAN

Where is FAN’s service area? Where do you help Community Cats?

FAN is located in the Hampton Roads region of Southeastern Virginia and primarily services the South Hampton Roads area, i.e., the cities of Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, and Virginia Beach. Cats and kittens in Suffolk, Hampton and Newport News are also considered, but not prioritized for intake. FAN accepts cat/kitten intakes from out of state only in extremely rare circumstances.

How does FAN work? How do you accept Cats and Kittens into your program?

Intake is mainly from trapping projects in areas with feral cats, reported to FAN by concerned citizens. Kittens found at active trapping sites are retained, vetted, socialized, and placed for adoption. All strays and friendly cats found to have joined feral colonies are retained for stray hold (5 to 10 days, as per each city’s requirements) and reported to the city in which the cat was found, with every effort to locate a possible owner. After 21-30 days of quarantine (including reported stray hold and the process of parasite treatment, vaccines, spay/neuter, and socialization for adoption), friendly cats are placed for adoption. FAN utilizes microchip scanning, social media posts, local lost/found resources, and stray hold reporting to reunite lost animals with owners, when possible.

Do you accept owner-surrendered Cats? Do you accept transfers from local shelters?

FAN accepts a limited number of owner surrenders and transfers from local shelters, particularly when cats are slated for euthanasia due to space or illness, such as FIV-diagnosed. FAN does not accept FeLV-positive cats. FAN specifically targets feral and semi-feral cats (for our “Career Cat” program). As per adoption contract, FAN accepts the return of cats from previous adopters, as needed for rehoming, as a priority for owner surrender.

What happens to friendly/semi-friendly Cats or Kittens you find when trapping?

Intake of kittens (up to 10-12 weeks), or juveniles and cats (friendly, handleable strays), are accepted as space and financial resources allow and prioritized as to ease of adoptability. When FAN foster space is full, concerned residents are redirected to contact local shelters or rescue groups in South Hampton Roads, VA. We do not intake feral cats for adoption, unless going to a predetermined “barn home.” Priority is given to the following cats and kittens, in order:

  • Returning from contractually bound FAN adopters
  • Found running or roaming as a stray who are determined to be adoptable
  • In South Hampton Roads, VA partner shelters in immediate danger of euthanasia or who need immediate medical help not provided by the shelter
  • From private rescuers in the South Hampton Roads, VA area with limited avenues for adoption
  • Surrendered by owners who are not FAN adopters

How can I help my non-cat loving neighbors live with Cats in our Neighborhood?

If you have neighbors complaining that cats are in their trash or digging in their garden; lounging in their yard or porch, or on their car; sleeping under their porch or in their shed; yowling, fighting, spraying, roaming, and having babies, then this is the best information for you to share on humanely deterring cats from their home.

We highly recommend you read this and share it with your neighbors:

Alley Cat Allies “How to Live With Cats in Your Neighborhood”

Can you Trap-Neuter and Remove instead of Trap-Neuter-Return?

No, community (feral) cats are a community’s responsibility. Meaning, they are there because at some point socialized cats were abandoned and in a few generations became feral. The most humane way to deal with their overpopulation is by doing TNR, i.e., Trap-Neuter-RETURN. Returning them to their known neighborhood is essential for their livelihood. If you relocate such cats without a proper acclimation, they will try to find their way back home and may likely get killed in the process.

Sometimes, we are lucky enough to have barns and farms interested in such “career cats.” We have no openings currently, unfortunately. The best thing we can do for those cats is to spay/neuter, vaccinate and return.

 

About Adopting from FAN

What should I expect when adopting a Cat or Kitten?

The decision to adopt a cat is serious, requiring a lot of thought. Adopting a living, breathing creature is a big responsibility. You’re making a lifetime commitment. And you need to consider your ability to:

  • Care for your cat
  • Spend time with them
  • Provide financially for food and medical costs
  • Find housing where your furry family member will be allowed

What are FAN's adoption requirements?

When you complete our Adoption Application, we’ll review the following with you (it helps to know our policies in advance):

  • Have (or plan to establish) a relationship with a veterinarian
  • Plan for annual medical check-ups
  • Be prepared financially for any medical emergencies that happen without warning
  • Agree to NEVER declaw your new cat
  • Commit to providing an INDOOR only home for your cat
  • Promise to properly acclimate your new kitty for at least ONE WEEK in their new home, for best long-term outcome
  • Provide high-quality food and fresh water
  • Arrive with a cat carrier that’s at least 24 inches long (or larger) to take home your new cat —Bonus points if it features a top-load option

What is FAN's adoption process?

You understand the responsibility of adopting, and you know FAN’s policies. Here’s what our process looks like:

  1. Complete the Adoption Application (either here on the website or at Catnip Cat Cafe)
  2. Set up a quick 20-minute phone call to discuss the Application and counsel on your new kitty responsibilities
  3. Provide us with some photos of your home (as home visits are taboo, courtesy of COVID-19)
  4. Schedule a meet-and-greet so you can interact with your potential new cat, as needed
  5. Complete and sign the Adoption Contract and provide the appropriate ID (a Driver’s License works best), once you’re approved
  6. Pay the adoption fee (Cash, Check, or PayPal)
  7. Voila! You head home with your new furry family member

When can I submit an application for a Kitten?

FAN starts accepting applications for kittens when they’re six (6) weeks of age. This ensures they’re “out of the woods” health-wise. As you know (or may not), the first eight (8) weeks for a kitten are the most precarious.

Incidentally, we REALLY appreciate Donations to sponsor our kittens and cover those unexpected medical costs.

How are adopters selected?

We prefer to focus on matching our cats and kittens with the best possible homes. This is why we conduct interviews and look at home photos. We wait until all the steps of the adoption process are complete before making a decision.

Our goal is to help you find the best furry family member —not just for today, but for their lifetime.

Do you give preference to certain adopters?

Nope. We consider every potential adopter’s household, matching them with the cat or kitten’s personality.

We DO usually suggest adopting two (2) kittens together, so they have company when you’re not around. This offers them a buddy to play with and helps keep the mischief to a minimum (usually). Something to keep in mind.

How much are adoption fees?

We want to assure you that your FULL adoption fee goes back to FAN’s medical fund, allowing us to rescue more cats and kittens.

Here are current adoption fees (payable by Cash, Check or PayPal):

  • $185 for kittens under six (6) months — $315 if you adopt two
  • $155 for “teenage” kittens (six months to one year) — $260 if you adopt two
  • $140 for adult cats WITH a microchip — $120 if WITHOUT a microchip

If the cat or kitten has LONG HAIR or SPECIAL MARKINGS, adoption fees may go up to $200-$285, depending on rarity or high demand.

Why do we ask for an adoption fee?

Feral Affairs Network (FAN) is a wholly volunteer-run, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and we depend entirely on donations to fund our operations. We take on significant expenses to provide our cats and kittens with the best possible care, including spay/neuter surgeries, vaccines, food, shelter, and other veterinary care. To help defray at least some of these costs, we request an adoption fee, money that acts as a donation to help support the FAN mission to reduce the suffering and unnecessary euthanasia of feral (community) cats through trap-neuter-return (TNR).

Will I know my Cat's medical history?

We want you to feel confident adopting from FAN. As such, we provide cats and kittens with:

  • Microchips
  • Spay / Neuter
  • Current rabies and distemper (FVRCP) vaccines
  • FeLV/FIV testing
  • Deworming, parasite prevention
  • Flea prevention

All their medical records will go to you at the time of adoption. This includes any additional vet visits they might have needed. If they have chronic or continuing health issues, we’ll let you know.

When can my Kitten go home with me?

Kittens may go home once they’ve recovered from their spay/neuter procedures, which usually happens when they’re around 3-4 months old. We’ll have you complete their Adoption Contract, pay the fee, and set up a “Going Home” date.

Our policy to include spay/neuter surgery saves you money on the procedure (not to mention related medical costs).

What can I do if I need to give up my cat / rehome my cat?

As per the FAN Adoption Contract: “I will not give him/her away to an outside party or to any shelter. If for any reason, I am not able to care for the above-described cat/kitten, I will return the cat/kitten to FAN.”

••••••••••••••••••••••

While we prefer you contact us if you need to rehome (life happens!), there are personal adoption alternatives. Facebook offers groups dedicated to rehoming your companion animal, and/or…

Get Your Pet is an online community connecting people who need to find a new home for their cat with people who want to adopt a cat like theirs. (Dogs, too.) Rehoming your cat directly helps alleviate the added burden on rescue groups and shelters and increases their ability to care for the homeless and abused animals that really need them.

GET YOUR PET: ADOPTION FEES

For Guardians, rehoming your pet on Get Your Pet is free.

For Adopters, unlimited browsing of pet profiles is free. Unlimited, secure messaging with Guardians — free. Meet-ups — free. The Adopter pays a nominal adoption fee online only after they take possession of the pet from the Guardian. And a portion of the profits will go to benefit local shelters.

NOTE: PLEASE, when giving a cat/kitten away, ALWAYS CHARGE A REHOMING FEE. If someone is unwilling to pay a fee, that’s a RED FLAG. Having a cat/kitten costs money: food, vet checkups, vaccines. If they can’t afford to pay a $50 adoption fee, what are they going to do when a bigger expense comes up? People looking for animals to abuse usually will tell you a “sob story.”

Do you have any after-adoption programs to help me save money?

We currently partner with Pawsnickety Pets, a holistic pet supply boutique located in the Ghent Neighborhood of Norfolk, VA. Pawsnickety offers an array of all-natural, human-grade food & treats.

Bring your kitty adoption papers to the store to receive a FREE Pawdoption Care Kit (full-sized items!) complete with food, treats and supplements. Learn more at Pawsnickety Pets.

About TNR & Community (Feral) Cats

What is TNR?

TNR stands for Trap-Neuter-Return. After a feral cat is humanely trapped, he/she is spayed (female)/neutered (male) and immunized then returned to the trapped location and released after an appropriate recovery period. Feral cats who have been TNR’d will have the tip of their left ear removed to indicate the cat is sterilized and vaccinated against rabies.

What is a community cat? Is there a difference between stray and feral cats?

Community cats are unowned cats living outdoors in virtually every region on every continent where people live. Like indoor cats, they belong to the domestic cat species. Community cats, also known as feral cats, are usually not socialized, or unfriendly, to people and cannot live indoors. They, however, can live full, healthy lives with their feline families, or colonies, in their outdoor homes.

Stray cats (usually abandoned or lost companion animals) are socialized to people and can be adopted into homes while feral cats are not socialized to people and prefer living outdoors. Learn more at AlleyCat.org/StrayOrFeral

Why does this cat have the tip of one ear removed?

Removal of the left ear tip is a universal indicator that the cat has seen a veterinarian, been sterilized, and vaccinated against rabies, at a minimum. The missing ear tip helps trappers/rescuers and Animal Control easily recognize cats who are already “snipped” and can release them quickly if caught.

What should I do if I find kittens outside?

ALLEY CAT ALLIES: What to Do if You Find Kittens Outdoors — You may be surprised to hear that, usually, you should not take them to a shelter. See what you SHOULD do.

I don’t want cats in my yard. What can I do?

We have simple, effective, humane solutions to keep outdoor cats away from places they are not wanted. Learn how at AlleyCat.org/Deterrents

I found a pregnant cat. I can’t touch her. How can I help this feral, pregnant cat?

Thanks for caring about this mama and her babies. We’re grateful you want what is best for her, as do we, but this is not an easy situation.

We do not foster feral mothers. Why? Containing feral moms inside —until they have kittens— rarely yields the results we hope for.

Confinement can be so stressful on feline feral mothers-to-be they may miscarry (horrible outcome for both mom and YOU!) or abandon their babies once born. We have experienced both. Stress can also cause a variety of medical issues for the mother.

We recommend spaying her ASAP so she can continue to live her life without the stress of raising babies outside in a harsh, unforgiving environment full of predators & other hazards. FAN can help arrange the spay…

READ MORE

What should I do if approached by local authorities when caring for an outdoor cat colony or acting as a TNR trapper or other community cat caretaker role?

We highly recommend you read this Alley Cat Allies How-To Guide, KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: HOW TO TALK TO LOCAL AUTHORITIES.

FAST FACTS 

  • You are not required to say anything beyond identifying yourself and telling the officer you’re exercising your right to remain silent.
  • You are not required to allow police or animal control to search your home or property without a warrant.
  • You are not required to allow animal control or other law enforcement to observe your colony or feeding times on private property.
  • You are not required to inform animal control if the cats are yours or not.
  • You are not required to sign anything (other than a court summons).
  • You are not required to trap cats.
  • You are not required to bring cats to a shelter.
  • You are not required to give consent to trap or kill an animal.

Are cats responsible for wildlife depletion?

Misinformation about cats–like the myths that feral (community) cats suffer outside, that cats should be indoors-only, or that cats are responsible for wildlife depletion–often result in misguided policies that lead to cats being killed. It’s important to look at the facts, rather than believe sensationalized media hype or emotional arguments.

Here are a few good resources:

Alley Cat Allies “Cats & Wildlife”

Alley Cat Allies “The Wisconsin Study: Bad Science Costs Cats’ Lives”

Alley Cat Allies “Humans: The Number One Threat to Wildlife”

Are their laws against Animal Cruelty that protect feral cats?

All 50 states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws criminalizing acts of cruelty toward animals and include felony animal cruelty offenses.

Anti-cruelty laws must protect every cat regardless of whether the cat is a pet, a stray, unowned, or a community (feral) cat. Animal cruelty offenders are a threat to the health and safety of all members of our communities.

Research shows a clear relationship between violence toward animals and violence toward people. Cruelty to animals is unacceptable and cannot be ignored for the sake of the animals and our fellow man. We must demand that every instance of animal cruelty is investigated and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Learn more about animal cruelty and the law and how violence toward animals is linked to violence toward people.

Source: Alley Cat Allies

Is TNR considered abandonment?

While the legal definition of “abandonment” varies from state to state, it generally refers to:

“An owner (or person responsible for an animal) intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence leaves an animal behind, or permits an animal to be left behind, without providing for the animal’s proper care or making reasonable arrangements for custody with another person.”

FAN supports the enforcement of laws that punish true abandonment, but these laws do not apply whatsoever to TNR.

Read more: Alley Cat Allies “Why TNR is NOT Abandonment.”

What is the Vacuum Effect and what does It have to do with cats?

Have heard the expression “nature abhors a vacuum”?

It refers to the phenomenon that when a space is emptied, nature will fill it.

Once you understand this law of nature, you’ll understand why killing cats (or otherwise removing them) from a given location is doomed to fail. The idea that removing cats will not lead to a decrease in cat populations across time may feel counter-intuitive, but it is grounded in a well-documented concept in biology known as the Vacuum Effect.

Read more from Alley Cat Allies on “The Vacuum Effect and Why Catch & Kill Doesn’t Work.”

About Low-Cost Spay/Neuter Clinics

Is spaying/ neutering too expensive or will it change may cat's personality?

Spay/neuter is invaluable—and there are many low-cost options.

Whether you’re a cat owner or a feral cat caregiver, it’s important that the felines under your care are spayed or neutered. Spays (female) and neuters (male) are surgical procedures performed by veterinarians to sterilize, or “fix,” the animals and prevent them from reproducing.

In addition to ending the breeding cycle and reducing the number of animals who are killed in shelters each year, spaying/neutering your cat or community cats in a colony you care for has many health and behavioral benefits for the animals and your neighbors.

Read more from Alley Cat Allies “Spay/Neuter: Good for Cats, Good for Communities.”

What is the difference between euthanasia and killing?

Millions of cats die in U.S. animal control pounds and shelters every year. The pounds and shelters say these animals are “euthanized.” But they’re not—they are killed. An animal is only euthanized when she is terminally ill or untreatably injured.

Euthanasia n. Also called mercy killing. The act of putting to death painlessly or allowing to die, as by withholding extreme medical measures, a person or animal suffering from an incurable, especially a painful, disease or condition (Random House Dictionary).

Genuine euthanasia is a medical decision and is always done in an individual animal’s best interest. It can be an important part of end-of-life care. But most animals who die in pounds and shelters are killed for very different reasons. Facilities kill animals to make room for new ones, to manage disease, or to compensate for inadequate staff or funding. Decisions to kill reflect the operating interests of facilities, not the best interests of animals.

Using the word “euthanasia” masks what really happens to cats in pounds and shelters—they are killed.

Source: Allied Cat Allies

About Cat Health & Behavior

What plants are safe for my cats? Which are toxic?

See this Toxic and Non-Toxic Plant List from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)

How do I care for a mother cat and her babies?

Caring for a —friendly— mother cat and her newborn kittens is one of the most rewarding experiences a foster parent can have. Kitten Lady Hannah Shaw has a great article and video on the subject of mother cats and their babies.

What does it mean if a cat tests positive for FIV?

FIV stands for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. FIV+ cats live fulfilling, healthy lives and have the same needs as Non-FIV cats.

FIV Fast Facts

  • FIV causes cats to have compromised immune systems, so they may be more susceptible to common illnesses, such as a cold.
  • FIV+ cats in a home environment with a nutritious diet and routine veterinary care can live long, healthy lives.
  • FIV can be transferred from mother to kitten or from cat to cat, usually through a deep bite.
  • Non-FIV cats can live indoors with FIV+ cats. As with any new cat, a proper introduction is recommended to reduce stress levels.

For more information, visit Alley Cat Allies FIV Quick Facts

Help! I’ve lost my cat! What should I do to find my lost cat?

We recommend Pet Tracker as the best resource for finding your lost cat, quickly and safely.

Pet Tracker gives step-by-step instructions for both indoor only and displaced cats (lost away from home). 

Cats have a predictable and mathematical science to their lost behaviors. Understanding these behaviors enabled Pet Tracker to create a systematic plan of action for owners to implement immediately. 

It works!

Are feral cats safe members of our communities? Are they healthy?

Public health policies all over the country reflect the scientific evidence: feral cats live healthy lives outdoors and don’t spread disease to people. But advocates of catch and kill programs continue to justify this cruel practice by insisting that feral cats represent a threat to public health and that they do spread disease. “There’s simply no evidence to back up these claims,” says Deborah L. Ackerman, M.S., Ph.D., an adjunct associate professor of epidemiology at the UCLA School of Public Health.

More and more, public health officials are embracing Trap-Neuter-Return for feral cats and replacing outdated policies based on unfounded fears.

Read more from Alley Cat Allies on the science behind why feral cats are safe members of our communities: Feral Cats and the Public—A Healthy Relationship.

How can I better understand my cat's body language?

Cat’s haven’t figured out to talk human (yet!) but through vocalizations, body language, and demeanor, your cat is a skilled communicator. Ears, eyes, body and tail are some of the easiest indicators to read, especially if you’re not that familiar with cats, or a particular cat. 

Cats are not the best poker players. They always have a “tell.”

Here are some ways to learn to “talk cat” from Petfinder.

Here are some ways your cat is telling you they’re sick, from WedMD.

What should I do with my indoor cat(s) and/or outdoor colony if a disaster strikes?

Our region sees natural disasters such as hurricanes and tornadoes, floods, and even the occasional snow storm or eathquake.

Alley Cat Allies has some great advice to help cat caregivers prepare for natural disasters and their aftermath, how to get the information, resources, and support they need in the event of an emergency.

Read more from Alley Cat Allies on “What to Do When Disaster Strikes.”

What vaccinations do TNR'd cats get?

Vaccinations are one way Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) protects community cats.

Rabies and FVRCP vaccinations are considered a standard and valuable element of TNR—a program that is extremely successful at stabilizing populations of community cats, also referred to as feral or outdoor cats. The program is also called Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return (TNVR). Vaccinating community cats for rabies as part of TNVR offers the best chance of protection from contracting and transmitting rabies.

Read more at Alley Cat Allies “Just the Facts: TNR and Vaccinations.”

Why is declawing bad for cats?

Declawing is the surgical amputation of the last joints of a cat’s toes, similar to cutting a person’s finger off at the last knuckle—closest to the fingertip. It can mean as many as 20 amputations for a cat. When the bones are cut, tendons, nerves, and ligaments in each paw are also severed, causing horrible pain. It is an elective surgery that causes permanent damage and is traumatic and stressful to cats.

Get the facts and please support legislation banning declawing.

Source: Alley Cat Allies “Just the Facts: Declawing”