Our town has a Trap, Neuter, and Return (TNR) program that encourages people to capture "community," or free roaming unowned cats. The cats are then taken to the local shelter and neutered or spayed, then released back to where they have been living. The hope is that this program will eventually and humanely reduce the population of feral cats.
Cats are apparently marked after the process by having their ears tipped, so they can be easily identified from a distance as already neutered.
I know that this program has been in place for many years--sometimes with government funding and sometimes through the goodness of private citizens.
One little guy who was the recipient of this free service was a young gray and white cat. He was so friendly and sociable that folks wanted to have him taken in by one of the many no-kill shelters here and offered for adoption, but at the time there just wasn't any room for any more cats. So he was released back into "the wild"--his neighborhood near the downtown plaza.
Then fate took a hand. One evening, the director of one of the most successful shelters was dining out with friends at the Little Toad Creek Brewery downtown when the gray and white cat came up and "spoke" to them. They knew he was asking for a home so they took him along, named him Little Toad, and featured him as the Action Programs for Animals Pet of the Week.
I saw his story on Facebook in mid-July and couldn't believe that he was not adopted immediately. Two weeks later, he joined our family. He made himself at home immediately. He wasn't bothered by the cats or the dogs. He isn't at all shy and greets visitors at the door and shows them to a comfy chair, just like a little maitre d'.
Little Toad at the shelter, waiting...
Home at last; best friends with Minky (whose shelter name was Butch Cassidy)
Everyone gets along. L to R: Little Toad, Henry (shelter name Jupiter), and Minky