Vision: A metropolitan region where all cats are safe at home resulting in a safer and healthier environment for both cats and wildlife.
Goal: To humanely reduce and prevent free roaming pet, stray and feral cat populations in the Portland Metropolitan Area[1] by integrating a range of strategies that are good for both cats and wildlife.

  • Integrate an aggressive Cats Safe at Home ™ outreach campaign with a variety humane and ecologically responsible on-the-ground strategies for reducing and preventing free-roaming pet, stray, and feral cat populations.
  • Set measurable short and long term targets for cat population reduction and changes in human attitudes towards responsible cat ownership and implement research projects to measure and evaluate progress in these areas.
  • Adaptively manage strategies and report back to the public in a transparent and open manner. 

Overview and Context:
More than 200 species of birds utilize the Portland Metropolitan Region for some portion of their annual cycle. This includes breeding, migratory and wintering populations. Consistent with trends nationwide, approximately 25% of these species are experiencing significant long term population declines. This includes not only species listed as threatened or endangered, but also many species that we still take for granted such as rufous hummingbirds, mourning doves and our state bird, the western meadowlark. The primary cause of reduced bird populations is habitat loss and fragmentation[2], but other causes of mortality such as window strikes, pesticides, and predation by introduced species add to the pressure on birds. This can be especially true in urbanized areas where birds are concentrated into smaller and smaller habitat patches.

Simultaneously, cat overpopulation remains a significant problem both in the Portland Metro Area and across the United States. While cats entering shelters in the Portland area are far more likely to find a home than in most communities, there continues to be more cats born than there are available homes. This results in unnecessary suffering and significantly shortened life-spans as unfixed cats continue to proliferate on the landscape. Risks to free roaming pet, stay and feral cats include cars, toxins, predators, other free roaming pets, and disease.

Our region has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in creating ecologically sustainable and healthily landscapes for people, pets, and for wildlife as well as in engaging the community in stewardship of the natural world. Regardless of whether a species is endangered, threatened, declining or still healthy, our community values its wildlife and its pets and wants to see both protected and healthy. By addressing the root causes of cat over-population and promoting responsible cat ownership, we will prevent cat predation on wild birds, reduce the flow of new cats into feral cat populations, and improve the health and wellness of cats.  

Strategies to Effectively Protect both Cats and Birds:
Successful reduction of free roaming pet, stray and feral cat populations requires collaboration and an array of strategies, employed on multiple scales. While free roaming, stray and feral cats can have an impact on native birds and other wildlife anywhere on the landscape, it is recognized that some limited locations, such as designated wildlife areas and natural areas, should be prioritized for reduction of existing cat populations and prevention of establishment of new populations. On the rest of the landscape, longer-term strategies such as targeted education and outreach campaigns, spay and neuter programs, and TNR are appropriate. Ultimately, we will establish clear and measurable objectives and benchmarks. The expectation is that the conservation and animal welfare groups listed on this agreement will work together collaborative and in good faith on all landscapes to find strategies and solutions that respect the values of all participants.

Specifically, Cat’s Safe at Home™ focusses on the following areas:  

  • Public Outreach and Educational Campaign: Promoting responsible cat ownership focused on education and outreach to reduce free roaming pet, stray and feral cat populations. Positive and consistent messaging will emphasize the importance of keeping cats safe at home by using a variety of methods[3] to benefit both cats and wildlife in the Portland Metro Area. Effort will be made to ensure that messaging is unambiguous and strong on the overall goal of reducing free-roaming cats across the landscape.
  • Landscape scale reduction of cat overpopulation: Promoting reduction of free-roaming, stray and feral cat populations through a variety of methods including spay and neuter programs, Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) and shelter-based strategies.
  • Prioritization of designated natural area and critical habitat areas: Recognizing that certain locations have been set aside specifically for the protection and recovery of wildlife, those areas will be prioritized for addressing free roaming, stay and feral cat impacts. Strong effort will be made to encourage feral cat care givers not to establish or promote cat colonies in these locations and we will work together to find expeditious solutions to addressing problems in these locations if and when they do occur. We agree that in designated wildlife areas, the priority needs to be placed on implementing strategies that expeditiously remove cats from these locations, and non-lethal means will always be the preferred solution.
  • Safeguards for property owners who want to protect wildlife on their land: Maintaining “no trespass”[4] and other nuisance statutes and strategies that specifically provide property owners/ managers with effective, legal, humane methods to address cats that come onto their property.[5]
  • Protection for native predatory species that may prey upon free roaming, stray and feral cats: Impacts on free roaming cats will not be recognized as a legitimate basis for the trapping, relocation or lethal control of native predator species such as coyotes and raccoons.
  • Responsible management of feral cat colonies that minimizes the risk of attracting, habituating and otherwise impacting native wildlife populations: TNR caregivers will be educated and required to follow Best Management Practices (BMPs) that reduce the risk of attracting wildlife populations to feeding areas in order to minimize risk of habituation of wildlife, disease transmission, and creation of wildlife nuisance situations such as unnaturally large congregations of wildlife populations. 
  • Scientific Research and Adaptive Management: Ongoing rigorous assessment and evaluation of our impacts on cat over-population and on the behaviors and perceptions of the public around this issue. 
  • Transparent Reporting: So that the public can see, understand and access the programs that are being implemented.

[1] The Portland Metro Area includes the area inside the Metro Urban Growth Boundary and includes portions of Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas Counties.
[2] Fragmentation refers to the loss of connectivity between habitats. As habitat areas become more isolated, they tend to support less biodiversity and become more vulnerable to negative impacts.
[3] Methods will focus on ways to ensure a happy, healthy cat including designs for outdoor enclosures and fencing, cat enrichment strategies, health and veterinary care.
[5] The objective is to recognize that some property owners may be unwilling to accept free roaming cats on their property---there should be a range of alternatives available that are legal, humane and effective to effectively address this concern. Examples could range from mediation resources to statutes allowing for the capture and transport of trespassing cats to shelters.