Rural Animal Welfare Resources
Empowering You to Respect and Care for Animals

Caring for a Feral Cat

Mon, 01/05/2015 - 14:39 -- penny

The Difference Between A Stray & A Feral Cat

A stray cat is a pet cat that is lost or abandoned. Feral cats are the offspring of lost or abandoned pet cats or other feral cats who are not spayed or neutered. Stray cats are accustomed to contact with people and are tame (although they may act feral if they are frightened). Feral cats are not accustomed to contact with people and are typically too fearful and wild to be handled. Stray cats may be reunited with their families or adopted into new homes, but feral cats do not easily adapt to living as pets in close contact with people.

However there are many things you can do to help improve the health and quality of life of feral cats.

Feral Cat Groups (Colonies)

Feral females (queens) can have two to three litters of kittens per year. Their kittens ifthey survive, will become feral without early contact with people.

Cats can become pregnant as early as 4 months of age, and the number of cats rapidly increases without intervention by caring and responsible humans. Being pregnant so young and so often, continuously having and nursing kittens, is very stressful for female cats. More than half of the kit­tens are likely to die without human inter­ven­tion.

Feral males (toms or tom cats) roam, and they will fight to defend their territories and females. And any un-neutered tom can get a queen, pet or feral, pregnant! Any un-neutered queen, feral or pet, can become pregnant by a feral tom. That is why both toms and queens need to be neutered

ImageTrap Neuter Return (TNR)

 

Trap-Neuter-Return is a non-lethal strategy to reduce the number of feral cats and improve the quality of life for cats, birds, wildlife and people. At a minimum, feral cats that are TNR-ed are spayed or neutered so they can no longer reproduce. They are also surgically ear-tipped on one ear. Humans will be able to recognize cats that have been neutered this way. Dedicated caretakers (colony managers) feed and provide shelter for TNR-ed cats. They also monitor the cats for sickness and have new cats TNR-ed.

 

Without TNR and a dedicated caretaker, the population of the feral colony would continue to increase and disease may take hold.

Feral Cat Rescue & Re-homing

RAWR doesn’t have a rescue centre and all the animal shelters we work with or know already care for and try to find homes for thousands of pet cats every year. The friendly, socialized and healthy cats may find homes. Spitting, hissing and scratching feral cats most certainly will not!

Euthanizing Feral Cats (which RAWR does not do)

Some people feel sorry for feral cats because of their difficult and dangerous life. Others are annoyed by their behaviour. Getting rid of the cats will not help as long as there are plenty waiting in the wings to take over the newly available territory.

Other feral cats would move into the vacant territory to take advantage of the food source and shelter made available by removing feral cats. It's an endless cycle. This is called the ‘vacuum effect’.

 

Solving Common Complaints Associated With Feral Cats

When feral cats are trapped, neutered and returned to their territory, they no longer reproduce. When the colony is then monitored by a caretaker who removes and/or TNRs any newly arrived cats, the population stabilizes and gradually declines over time.

The cessation of sexual activity eliminates the noise associated with mating behaviour and dramatically reduces fighting and the noise it causes. Foul odours are greatly reduced as well because neutered male cats no longer produce testosterone which, when they are unaltered, mixes with their urine and causes the strong, pungent smell of their spraying