Study finds LMAS, Alley Cat Advocates Partnership Significantly Reduced Louisville’s Stray Cat Population

August 20, 2020

Best Friends Animal Society study supports collaborative approach to managing feral cats and serves as a model for other communities

Research funded by national animal welfare organization Best Friends Animal Society and published today demonstrates the impact of targeted sterilization programs operated as a partnership between Louisville Metro Animal Services (LMAS) and the non-profit organization Alley Cat Advocates. Over an eight-year period, during which nearly 25,000 cats were sterilized, LMAS saw a 43 percent reduction in the number of cats admitted to its shelter and a 94 percent reduction in the number of cats euthanized.

Peter Wolf, co-author of the study in the online journal Animals, explained the key to the Louisville’s success is targeted trap-neuter-return (TNR). TNR is simple: cats are caught, evaluated by veterinarians, vaccinated, spayed or neutered, and returned to their original outdoor homes, unable to have kittens.

“This study provides some of the most compelling evidence to date that targeted TNR efforts are effective at managing a community’s free-roaming cat population,” said Wolf, research and policy analyst for Best Friends Animal Society.

“The reductions in feline intake and euthanasia are very impressive,” added Dan Spehar, lead-author of the study. “The success of this collaboration can be a model for communities across the country.”

Alley Cat Advocates implements TNR in neighborhoods throughout Louisville and Jefferson County, while LMAS applies essentially the same method for stray cats entering the shelter.

“The TNR/RTF program has been instrumental in reducing the city’s stray cat population,” said Ashley Book, interim LMAS shelter director. “The program also continues to be a key aspect of preventing shelter overcrowding. LMAS has not euthanized a single animal (cat or dog) for time or space in three years. We don’t believe our success would have been possible without the TNR/RTF program.”

"The cultural shift in our community in understanding the nature of community cats and their place in our midst could not have been made without the support and backing of our county government and its municipal shelter's leadership and staff,” added Karen Little, executive director of Alley Cat Advocates. “The cats returned to their outside homes are loved and cherished. Working together with a shelter staff who understands and respects this, makes a stronger, more caring community for all its citizens."


About Best Friends Animal Society

Best Friends Animal Society is a leading national animal welfare organization dedicated to ending the killing of dogs and cats in America's shelters. In addition to running lifesaving programs in partnership with more than 3,100 animal welfare groups across the country, Best Friends has lifesaving centers in New York City, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Salt Lake City, and operates the nation's largest no-kill sanctuary for companion animals. Founded in 1984, Best Friends is a pioneer in the no-kill movement and has helped reduce the number of animals killed in shelters nationwide from an estimated 17 million per year to around 625,000. That means there are still more than 1,700 dogs and cats killed every day in shelters, just because they don’t have safe places to call home. We are determined to bring the country to no-kill by the year 2025. Working collaboratively with shelters, rescue groups, other organizations and you, we will end the killing and Save Them All.  To check out our pet lifesaving dashboard and for more information, visit Join the conversation on, Twitter (@BestFriends) and Instagram (@BestFriendsAnimalSociety).


About Alley Cat Advocates

Alley Cat Advocates is a 501(c)3 organization that relies on grant funding and donations to offer spay/neuter services for cat caretakers in the community.  Alley Cat Advocates' mission is to provdide for the humane treatment of unowned cats in our community by directing a Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program in the safest, most efficient, and most cost-effective way possible.  Alley Cat Advocates schedules over 130 spay/neuter appointments each week.  The group will spay/neuter over 4,000 community cats this year and has altered over 50,000 stray cats in our community since they began their work in 1999.    

For more information or to schedule a spay/neuter for a community cat, call 502-634-8777 or visit