Ferals can make great neighbors!
Many of the cats we see wandering around outdoors aren’t truly feral. There are many cats who have owners that are allowed outdoors without proper tags. Other cats that are outdoors were owned cats at some point. In my area, we have a big problem with people leaving their cats behind when they move. Some cats have wandered away from home and never made it back as well.
Feral cats are not necessarily the dirty disease-ridden animals of urban lore. They are normal domestic cats that have not lived with humans long enough that they are no longer socialized. They live outdoors, hunt for their own food, establish their own territory and create their own kitty communities. It is true that they are exposed to more disease than indoor cats, but many feral cats are healthy.
There are plenty of things that we can do to help feral cats and decrease the overpopulation of cats. Here are just a few ideas:
- Find or create a Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) group in your area.
These groups trap feral cats and take them to a veterinarian for treatment. The veterinarian will check the cat for diseases, give vaccinations, spay or neuter the cat, and mark the cat by painlessly cutting off a small part of the ear. The groups will then return the cat to the area it was found in.
- Educate other people about TNR.
- Create feral cat shelters to help keep the cats warm in cold weather.
These can be made out of Rubbermaid bins, styrofoam, and straw. It doesn’t have to be expensive!
- Feed feral cats in areas where they won’t be a nuisance to people.
It might not be the best idea to feed ferals at your home. They will continue coming back over and over – with friends. People in the neighborhood may become upset at the presence of the cats in the neighborhood or in their yards/gardens. A field or an open area away from homes may be a better choice.
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Do you do anything to help your local feral community?