Colony Care


Caretakers play a vital role by providing food and shelter to feral and stray cats. 

If you are a resident of Lake County, Illinois who is caring for outdoor cats, we want to help you. Caretakers can get access to spay/neuter services through Spay and Stay. Our support staff will provide guidance and direct you to our available resources. If you are feeding feral cats and would like access to spay/neuter services, see Our Process to download the caretaker registration form and begin your application.

If you live outside of Lake County, Illinois, see TNR Resources for who to contact in your area.

Caring for Your Feral Cat Colony

Feral Cat Colony Management

The information and tips below will help you to manage cats in your area. 

It is recommended that all cats in the colony, whether they are consistently present or intermittent, be sterilized, vaccinated for rabies and distemper, ear-tipped (for visual identification), and microchipped. Afterwards they can be returned to their familiar habitat. If you notice any new, unfamiliar cats in your colony, contact Spay and Stay so they can be sterilized and vaccinated.

Stay and Spay microchips all cats, for tracking purposes, that go through the TNR program. Microchipping by Spay and Stay is not meant to imply ownership or responsibility by Spay and Stay for the cat. The above statement does not apply to cats that are contractually adopted from Spay and Stay.

Note: If you notice an injured or ill cats in your colony we can help ensure that they receive prompt veterinary treatment. Spay and Stay can help coordinate a visit to a familiar veterinarian who can provide treatment. However, if there is a medical emergency, do not wait to contact Spay and Stay. It is not humane to allow any animal to suffer unnecessarily.


Important Tips for Your Cat Colony

Maintain good records of all cats in your colony and the dates they were sterilized.

Make an effort to socialize newly-weaned kittens (about 6 weeks old) so they can be placed with an adoption group. Download Taming Feral Kittens.

When possible, bring friendly adult cats indoors so they can be placed in a permanent home either through your efforts with friends and family or by contacting a local adoption group or shelter. Download How to Find Homes for Homeless Pets.

Provide adequate food and water for the cats on a daily basis, year-round, using techniques to minimize nuisance.

Provide adequate shelter for the cats in your colony so they can withstand the extreme cold and high winds we often face in our area. Spay and Stay often has shelters available for a minimal cost. See Winter Shelters for instructions on how to build several types of cozy winter shelters.

Eliminate nuisance complaints by working with your neighbors and offer humane techniques to discourage or eliminate cats from areas where they are not welcome. Download How to Live with Cats in Your Neighborhood.

If you are moving or relocating within Lake County can no longer adequately care for your colony, we ask that you do one of the following if possible:

  • Find a successor caretaker. This could be a neighbor or friend who is willing to take over caring for your colony at its current location or

  • Contact Spay and Stay for instructions for moving your colony with you if you remain in Lake County, IL. Please note that this is a last resort as relocating a colony is very time consuming and often very dangerous for the cats, as most times they will try to make their way back to their original home. Alley Cat Allies offers a great article on relocating cats called Safe Relocation of Feral Cats. Once again, relocation should used as a last option only. Be sure to notify Spay and Stay about which option you have chosen so our records are up to date.