KANAB, Utah (ABC4) – This Saturday is National Community Cat Day — a day to appreciate the furry felines in our lives while raising awareness of the risks that community cats face every day.

“Community cats” is a term that Best Friends Animal Society and other animal welfare organizations are using to describe cats that live outside and may not have a stable home.

Best Friends Animal Society wants to move away from the term “feral cats” to describe outdoor cats as many of them are actually very friendly, social, or even shy. These cats have established communities and are loved by a variety of caregivers.

Cats are euthanized at double the rate of dogs when placed into animal shelters, officials say. Community cats make up the majority of those deaths. In 2020, 68% of animals killed in shelters were cats, meaning over 201,000 cats were killed in shelters, officials say.

“National Community Cat Day seeks to address the need for public understanding and adoption of policies and programs to humanely protect and manage community cat populations,” says Best Friend Animal Society.

One way to address overpopulation is by implementing a Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return (TNVR) method. Cats are humanely trapped, medically evaluated, spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and ear-tipped under anesthesia for identification. The felines are then released back into the wild to live out their lives peacefully.

Animal welfare officials say this method is the best way to control cat populations over time while allowing the cats to live their lives in dignity. This method has yielded saving rates of up to 80% in some communities.

The TNVR method improves neighborhood feline relations by reducing unwanted litters, improving the health of outdoor cats, saving taxpayer dollars by keeping cats out of shelters, and ultimately reduces the number of cats being euthanized.

“Managing community cats is key to helping us reach our goal of ending the killing of cats in America’s shelters by 2025,” said Julie Castle, CEO of Best Friends Animal Society. “These animals are the most at risk in our country, and it is critical that we have a nationwide implementation of Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return (TNVR) to save lives.”

“TNVR lengthens the lifespan and enhances the quality of life for cats in managed cat groups, allowing them to live longer and healthier lives than they would if they were turned into shelters,” society officials say.