How The Problem Of Feral Cats Multiplies
First, what is a feral cat? According to Margaret R. Slater, DVM, PhD, senior director of epidemiology, animal health services with the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals , a feral cat is âany cat who is too poorly socialized to be handled … and who cannot be placed into a typical pet home.â
According to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, there are between 60 million and 100 million feral cats in the U.S. They are usually the offspring of cats who were lost or abandoned by their owners, and they grow up not socialized to humans.
Because a female cat can become pregnant as young as 16 weeks of age and go on to have two or three litters a year, the feral cat population — and the problems associated with it — grows and perpetuates. In seven years, a single female cat and their kittens can produce 420,000 more cats.
Why Cant Animal Shelters Rescue All The Community Cats
Most community cats dont need rescuing they have an outdoor home and people who care for them. Bringing these healthy community cats in leads to shelter overcrowding, which leads to cats getting sick, which leads to higher euthanasia rates. No one wants that. Shelters and rescue groups help by participating in programs to get these cats spayed or neutered and vaccinated and to help support the people in the community who care for them.
Ideally, kittens, once weaned, can be placed in adoption programs. Kittens need to be exposed to humans by about 9 weeks of age in order to not harbor a fear of humans. Many community cat programs include foster homes to socialize kittens born outdoors so that they can be adopted into homes. Volunteering to be a foster home is one way you can be part of the solution.
If You’ve Found A Stray Cat With Kittens
If a stray cat has just had kittens, it may be best to leave them for a few days. If anyone tries to move them, the mother may reject or even kill the kittens. After a few days, she’ll move them anyway once she realises you know where they are.
If mum and kittens appear to be healthy and are in a safe area, it’s best to leave them alone – don’t move them unless they’re at risk. You can follow our advice above to try to find the cat’s owner. If you can’t find them and you think mum is a stray, call your local animal rescue for advice. They may talk to you about giving a helping hand by providing food, water and outside shelter to help protect mum and kittens from extreme weather.
If mum and/or the kittens seem to be sick or injured, phoning a local vet for advice is the best and quickest way to help. It’s important that mum and kittens stay together. If you need to transport them and aren’t able to do so safely, or if the stray cat rejects a kitten, please call your local rescue charity or our advice line on 0300 1234 999. Never put yourself in danger.
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What Will You Provide
- A warm, secure, dry barn or building in which the cats can live out their lives
- The commitment and ability to keep the cats confined to a crate or exercise pen with a wire top for four to five weeks to acclimate them to their new environment before release
- A clean litter box that is scooped and/or cleaned daily while confined
- A constant supply of dry food and fresh water. While confined and for a short while after release, you will provide a small amount of canned food daily. What cat can resist that?
- Monitoring and providing for the safety and well-being of the cats as their caretakers
- Spending time daily making verbal contact with the cats so that they become familiar with you
How Does Tnr Solve Common Complaints About Outdoor Cats
Spaying and neutering not only improves the welfare of individual cats, it can also solve many common complaints:
- The cats no longer reproduce. That means no more kittens to worry about and the family of outdoor cats wont continue to grow.
- Behaviors associated with mating, such as yowling and fighting, are dramatically reduced.
- Neutered cats also roam less they will stay closer to home and are less likely to be hit by cars.
- Foul odors are greatly reduced as well because neutered male cats, no longer producing testosterone, wont have that distinctive tomcat smell to their urine.
If enough cats in a community are TNRd, the population will stabilize and over time, decline and eventually die out. Fewer cats means fewer complaints.
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How Do I Tell Feral And Stray Cats Apart Once I Have Trapped Them
When in a frightening or stressful environmentsuch as a trap or a sheltera friendly stray cat may act like a feral cat, avoiding people and possibly even showing aggression to avoid being touched. Who can blame them? The cat is in a new and unfamiliar place.
Here are some ways that will help distinguish a feral cat from a scared stray cat when they are frightened, confined, or in a new place.
Do Try Very Hard To Find The Owner
First and foremostly, even if the cat doesnt seem friendly or socialised, she may still have an owner, so its vital to make sure that youre not accidentally taking someones lost pet. Then again, not all cats that come around begging are necessarily lost some may be wandering outdoor cats that have a home in your area and are attracted to something about your yard.
If there is any possibility that the cat has an owner, it is your responsibility to try as best as possible to reunite the cat with him or her. The first thing to do is to check for a collar or tag, and if you find one, to contact the owner. However, not having a collar or tag does not mean that a cat is unowned plenty of cats have successfully removed these items from their necks.
And while many cats have microchip IDs, you cant see or feel a microchip, so the cat will need to be scanned by a vet to check whether it has one.
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Dont Rush The Introduction To Other Pets
If other pets live in your home, introduce them to the stray cat slowly first let them get to know each other from either side of, or under a door. Eventually, introduce her to one other pet at a time. Consider putting the new cat in a carrier, and letting the other pets take their time to check her out, or putting your other pets in carriers, and letting the new cat check them out. If the introductions do not appear to go smoothly, take your time with the transition and make sure that all your pets get some extra love and attention throughout the process.
Adopting A Stray Cat Dos And Donts
Some people swear that its the best thing theyve ever done some say despite their best efforts, it just didnt work out. Regardless of others experiences, adopting a stray cat is always going to big commitment that should not be undertaken on a whim. Taking in a stray cat with an unknown history may very well turn out to be very rewarding in the long run, but is likely to require some pretty major adjustments, a huge amount of patience and financial resources to have the best chance of a successful outcome.
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Why Do Some People Consider Outdoor Cats A Nuisance
Problems can arise when outdoor cats venture into a yard where they are not welcome. Some people consider behaviors such as digging, urinating and defecating in their yard or garden, jumping on their car, sleeping on porch furniture or upsetting an owned cat to be nuisances. Others are concerned about wildlife the cats may prey on or about the health and welfare of cats they see outdoors. These concerns often lead to calls to animal control agencies and other officials whose job it is to serve the public making outdoor cats a problem for them as well as the resident who lodged the complaint.
Feral & Community Cats
Also known as Outdoor Cats, Alley Cats, Feral Cats, Street Cats, Barn Cats and Tom Cats. Community cats typically encompass any unowned or unclaimed outdoor cat. Many of these types of cats have been lost or abandoned and may receive food or care from one or more residents in a community. Feral cats are cats who are too poorly socialized to be placed in a home as a typical domestic cat.
Ventura County Animal Services intakes thousands of cats each year, some of whom are feral and cannot be adopted to a family as a typical house cat. VCAS supports the management of community cat colonies through . When feral cats enter our shelter system, they are scanned for a microchip to determine if they are owned or already part of an established feral cat colony. If they are part of an established colony, they are already spayed/neutered and vaccinated and can be returned to the area from which they were found if the area is safe to do so. If the area is not safe for them to return the cat may be adopted out as a Working Whiskers cat where he/she will live out their days doing what these cats do hunt and live outdoors.
Feral cats who are not yet part of an established colony will be spayed/neutered, vaccinated, microchipped and ear-tipped. Ear-tipping is the process whereby a tip of the cats right ear is surgically removed so they can clearly be identified in the wild without needing to trap them.
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There Is An Injured/sick Cat In My Yard Can You Come Pick It Up
The MSPCA does not currently have the resources to offer a domestic animal emergency ambulance service. However, the MSPCAs Angell Animal Medical Center does offer 24-hour emergency care for cats, so if the cat is friendly, you would have the option to bring the cat in for a fee. As always, exercise extreme caution should you decide to handle a sick or injured animal.
Does The Cat Seem To Fear Humans
A cat that runs away at your approach, isnt necessarily feral. It could be a stray that is starting to be afraid of people, due to mistreatment. It may also be a cat with a home that doesnt care for strangers. You can tell more by how the cat responds to your continued presence. A stray will likely begin to relax. A feral cat will hide, and if it feels threatened will lash out.
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What To Do When A Stray Cat Adopts You
According to the , there are tens of millions of feral and stray cats in the United States.
Many of these cats avoid people however, stray cats will sometimes yearn for human interaction .
In these cases, it seems as if stray cats decide to adopt an unsuspecting person as their new caretaker. Basically, these fuzzy interlopers can show up on your doorstep asking for cat food, shelter and attention.
So, what do you do if you happen to be the target? How do you make sure that your new stray cat neighbor stays happy and healthy under your care, especially if he wont come inside? And, if youre unable to care for the little guy, how do you find someone who can?
Home Sweet Home: How To Bring An Outside Cat Indoors
You may think that cats have to go outside to be happy. But cats would disagree with you
Actually, close to two-thirds of owned cats live indoors either exclusively or for a majority of the time. Cats can live a happy and healthy life indoors with their families.
Allowing your cats to roam outdoors can significantly shorten their lives. Potentially deadly dangersparasites, catching diseases from other cats, being hit by cars, stolen by strangers, attacked by predators, or just plain getting lostare constant threats to an outdoor cat. And cats themselves can be deadly to local wildlife.
So how do you keep kitty both safe and happy inside? Follow our suggestions:
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What To Do If There Is A Mother Cat
Mom should be trapped and spayed but not until her kittens are able to eat on their own. If she is feral, she should be re-released into the wild after her spay recovery. An adult feral cat cannot be placed for adoption and made a pet. It is highly unlikely that she could ever be tamed. Visit this page for more resources about feral cats and groups that can help with lending traps.
If surrendered to a municipal shelter , she would be euthanized because she cannot be handled by people and wouldnt be a safe pet to have in a home. If someone attempted to handle her, she might injure them.
How You Know Youve Been Adopted By A Stray Cat
When a cat starts coming around your house and looking for attention, begging for food or trying to sneak in your front door, theres a good chance youve been adopted, explains Megan Phillips, BS, ADBC.
Phillips is a cofounder of Train With Trust, a Colorado Springs-based company that offers personalized behavior solutions for owners of all types of animals. And if you start leaving food out, theres no question. That cat will keep coming back.
Phillips does note, however, that not all cats that come around begging are necessarily stray cats. She suggests that some cats may be indoor/outdoor cats that belong to a neighbor something about your yard or area.
Elise Gouge, a certified dog and cat behavior consultant and owner of Pet Behavior Consulting, LLC in Granby, Massachusetts, notes that while you may feel special that a cat has chosen your yard as her new hangout spot, she might have other adoptees in your area. Some cats are good at making the neighborhood rounds and having several friends they like to visit, she says.
Before assuming that a cat wants to adopt you, you should check to see if hes wearing a cat ID tag or bring him to a nearby animal hospital or rescue group to have him scanned for a microchip. If the cat has an owner, it is your responsibility to make a genuine effort to reunite cat and owner.
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After Determining The Cat Is A Stray
- Provide food, water, and shelter.
- Email SPCA NOVA at to see if we can help. We give priority to friendly stray cats, especially if the cat is sick, malnourished, or injured.
- Do not call email is the fastest way to get help.
Dont Let Her Go Outdoors
A newly adopted cat is more likely to settle into a contained lifestyle if you keep her indoors right from the start. According to the RSPCA, newly adopted cats should always be kept completely contained during the settling-in period or for at least one month, as they may run off or become lost if allowed outside. Animal welfare societies generally recommend that all cats are always kept indoors from dusk until dawn, and when they are allowed outside, that they are confined to your own property either by cat-proof fencing and enclosures or close supervision. An indoor lifestyle and confined outdoor activity will keep your cat and wildlife safe and happy and ensure that you are a good neighbour. It also ensures that the cat remains safe and well, and prevents her from running off, getting lost and becoming feral.
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What About Feral Kittens
Feral kittens can often eventually be adopted into homes, but they must be socialized at an early age. The first few weeks of their lives are critical, and if they arent handled in time, they will remain feral and therefore unadoptable. Most feral kittens brought to PAWS are first placed in our foster care program to be socialized and assessed for adoptability.
Why Feral Cat Adoption Is Not An Option
Many experts agree that feral adult cats simply canât be tamed. They are wild animals, like raccoons. They tend to stay away from humans, hide during the day, and when adopted, are very difficult to socialize. Just like you would never try to handle a raccoon, you should never try to pick up a feral cat. Call for assistance from the humane society or other animal welfare center.
The ASPCA advocates adopting the many available domestic cats and kittens rather than trying to tame feral cats.
However, feral kittens — especially those less than 8 weeks old — often can be socialized. Abandoned and lost cats can also be reintroduced to domestic living.
How can you tell a stray from a feral cat? Lost or abandoned felines are usually comfortable around people and will frequently attempt to live near humans — under porches, or in garages, sheds, or backyards.
Still, Slater maintains that TNR is the most humane and effective long-term solution. âWhat weâve done historically hasnât gotten us anywhere,â she says. âWe need to try something different. Weâre not talking about neutering cats and then dumping them. What weâre really talking about is managed colonies, with a human feeding the cats, caring for them, getting them health care, providing them shelter.â
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