What to Do With Feral Cats?

If you try, youll likely notice that the cat population around your house will explode. And we dont want you to bankrupt yourself for the sake of those cute strays.

When your cat sits in the window eyeing the birds and other critters scurrying around outside, his predatory instinct is at work. Feral cats thrive on that predatory instinct and use their natural abilities to dash, dart, jump, and capture their prey in the wild.

Just like your fur baby who likes to hide in boxes, under the couch, and in the back corner of your closet, feral cats tap into that primal survival instinct to find the very best outdoor homes that protect them through chilly winters and harsh summers. Adopted adult feral cats tend to get in fights with other pets, scratch children without provocation, and dont fully grasp the concept of the litter box. In other words, feral cats like to do their own thing and they dont care whose house or yard they mess up in the process.

Feral cats that hang out around your home can also cause problems for your domesticated fur babies. The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and The Humane Society of the United States agree, the best way to help feral cats is to use the trap-neuter-release method. The TNR method of dealing with feral cats is the safest and most humane option for several reasons.

First, trapping and turning feral cats over to shelters or pounds means they will likely be euthanized. Feral cats are not socialized to be pets; they grew up in the wild and its pretty dang hard to train them otherwise after that life. Also, by trapping, neutering, and releasing feral cats, you can solve many other problems at the same time, including:

If youre about to embark on the TNR journey with your local feral felines, here are some tips to follow:

How do I get rid of feral cats?

Remove Shelter. All wild animals need a secure place to sleep and to raise their young. ….Remove “Temptation” Unaltered males will be attracted to any female cats in heat. ….Use Commercial Repellant. ….Contact the Owner. ….Call Animal Control. ….Use Humane Traps. ….Work With Neighbors.

How do you get rid of feral cats forever?

Reduce Flat and Soft Surfaces..Use Natural Cat Deterrents..Use Non-Toxic Cat Repellents..Undo Their Territory Mark..Install Water Sprinkler Systems..Call Your Local Animal Shelter..Secure Your Trash..Talk to Your Neighbors.

Cats roam outside in most neighborhoods in the United States. Some are pets whose owners let (or put) them outside, but many are community cats, who may be feral or one-time pets who are now stray, lost or abandoned. The more we understand outdoor cats and the complicated issues related to them, the more effectively we can help them, reduce cat overpopulation and protect wildlife.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do to improve feral cats‘ health and quality of life. The colony occupies and defends a specific territory where food (a restaurant dumpster or a person who feeds them) and shelter (beneath a porch, in an abandoned building, etc.)

Stray cats tend to be much more visible, may vocalize and may approach people in search of food or shelter. In the United States, approximately two percent of the 30 to 40 million community (feral and stray) cats have been spayed or neutered. Shelters in a community with a large population of outdoor cats who aren’t spayed or neutered may experience these problems:

More cats entering shelters as a result of trapping feral adults and kittens young enough to be socialized (tamed). Strong, foul odors left by unneutered male cats spraying urine to mark their territory. Sign up to receive our exclusive e-book full of training techniques, problem-solving and important information about caring for your pet.

When outside, cats face dangers such as injury or death from being hit by a car, being harmed by another animal or person and diseases and parasites. Foul odors 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. 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.

If the owner can’t be found, step two is to try to find a permanent home for the cat through a shelter , rescue or other means . Ideally, kittens young enough to be socialized and new tame cats who arrive are removed from the colony for possible adoption. Many dedicated caretakers pay for TNR themselves to help improve the lives of cats and reduce their numbers.

Without TNR and a dedicated caretaker trapping new cats who show up, the population of the colony could increase. However, shelters that receive calls of complaint or concern from the public may attempt to humanely trap and remove feral cats. Euthanasia alone won’t rid an area of feral cats and killing animals to control their numbers is increasingly unpopular with the general public.

A better approach is TNR and a dedicated caretaker.Spayed or neutered feral cats are healthier because they no longer have kittens or fight over mates and their nuisance behaviors are greatly reduced or eliminated. If the colony has a dedicated caretaker, they provide food, water and shelter and watch over the cats‘ health and remove any newcomers for TNR (if feral) or adoption (if tame). The colony’s population will continue to increase until it reaches the number that can be supported by the available food and shelter.

No one watching out for pet cats who are lost or abandoned, aren’t spayed or neutered and quickly repopulate a vacated territory. As they grow hungrier and more desperate, they tend to venture closer to homes and businesses in search of food. Repeated experience has shown that people who care about the cats will go to great lengths to feed starving animals.

If you would like specific details about your communitys ordinances, please visit your citys or countys website and look for information about municipal codes. You can also request a copy of animal control ordinances from the city or county clerk.

– Community cat is an umbrella term that refers to any member of the Felis catus species who is unowned and lives outdoors. Both feral and stray cats are community cats.

Observing a cats behavior, including their body language, can help you assess their level of socialization. Understanding a cats level of socialization can help you act in their best interest.

Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) protects and improves the lives of all community cats, regardless of their level of socialization. When we say a cat is socialized we mean she is accustomed to and enjoys companionship with people. Its a process thats influenced by many factors of a cats life and takes time and effort from compassionate people.

Kittens becomes socialized by interacting with peoplebeing held, spoken to, and played withfrom an early age. If a kitten does not become accustomed to people holding her and petting her within this crucial window, she will grow up apprehensive of humans and will not be suited to or happy living in homes. Community cats have a wide range of behaviors and degrees of socialization, but they generally do not want to live indoors and are unadoptable.

Over time, a stray cat can become feral as her contact with humans dwindles. A stray cat may be socialized enough to allow people to touch her, but she will become less socializedor even feralif she spends too much time without positive interaction with humans. Kittens born to feral cats can be socialized at an early age and adopted into indoor homes.

Alley Cat Allies does not, in general, recommend trying to socialize a feral kitten over 4 months of age. Understanding the many degrees of socialization cats can exhibit will help you determine the best way to care for, help, and protect them. Scared stray cats often need time to relax and show their level of socialization.

Adult feral cats are not socialized to people, which means they cannot be adopted to indoor homes. As a result, they are likely to be killed if picked up by animal control or brought to shelters, so it is in their best interest to continue living outdoors. Stray cats who are thriving and dont have microchips indicating they are lost can be returned to their outdoor home or fostered and adopted.

Feral: May crawl, crouch, stay low to the ground, and protect body with tail. A male with a big head and thick neck, muscular body, and/or scars from fighting is more likely to be feral, since these are traits associated with intact males (and only 2% of feral cats are neutered in the U.S.) He may also have a spiky coat from high testosterone levels and less time spent grooming; may also have stud tailhair loss, greasiness, or bumps at the base of the tail due to hormones. Its important to note that this behavior does not mean that the cat is a good candidate for living indoors.

May respond to household sounds like cat food cans or bags being opened.

Andrew Rowan, former director of Tufts Universitys Center for Animals and Public Policy, estimates that between 60 and 100 million homeless cats live in the United States. Many of these cats are feral or wild cats, the descendants of unaltered tame cats who were abandoned and gave birth to kittens who never had contact with humans. Although ferals are fearful of humans, they are still domesticated and ill-equipped to survive on their own. Feral cats do not die of old age. They are poisoned, shot, tortured by cruel people, attacked by other animals, or hit by cars, or they die of exposure, starvation, or highly contagious fatal diseases, such as rabies, feline AIDS, feline leukemia, and feline infectious peritonitis. In one feral cat colony, half of the 32 cats were shot by a man who claimed that they were attacking his children. Cats in another colony were shot with darts. A loose dog killed several cats in another colony.

Untreated upper respiratory infections lead to eyes and noses so caked with mucus that animals can barely see or breathe. Urinary tract infections, which frequently lead to blockage in male cats, cause extremely painful, lingering deaths if not treated.

Feeding ferals increases their ability to give birth to even more kittens who are destined to suffer and die premature deaths. Before you trap, it is prudent to obtain written permission from the owner of the property on which the cats roam. Place a small trail of food leading to a large feeding clump at the back of the trap.

It can be difficult to walk even a short distance with a terrified cat struggling in a trap. Never turn feral cats loose in the houseyou may not see them again for days and will probably be faced with trapping them again to take them to a veterinarian or animal shelter. After bringing cats home from the vet, put them in a quiet place separated from other animals for a week or two to allow them to recover from surgery and become accustomed to their new surroundings.

When the cats have recuperated, they can be released into the house, but it may take months (or years) of patience and kindness before the animals begin to trust you. A painless injection is far kinder than any fate that feral cats will meet if left to survive on their own.

How to Humanely Deal with Feral Cats

It’s a dilemma every cat lover faces: Do I feed the poor feral kitties or do I call animal control so they stop destroying my yard?As much as you may want to be the Mother Teresa of cats, it’s just not feasible to feed and care for them all.If you try, you’ll likely notice that the cat population around your house will explode. And we don’t want you to bankrupt yourself for the sake of those cute strays.Don’t worry: there’s a better way!Here’s what you need to know about feral cats and how to best deal with their cute, pleading Oliver Twist-like faces.

What Are Feral Cats?

Cats without human homes.Now, before you start getting teary eyed and pledging to adopt every feral cat you find, we have some news for you: cats are meant to be wild.Don’t get us wrong: weBut the truth is that your cat’s DNA is all about the wild life. And feral cats have that same wild DNA.They’re also masters of conserving energy, which means they can go longer than your full-bowl-demanding cat can without food.Feral cats are also geniuses when it comes to finding safe places to live outside. Just like your fur baby who likes to hide in boxes, under the couch, and in the back corner of your closet, feral cats tap into that primal survival instinct to find the very best outdoor homes that protect them through chilly winters and harsh summers.

So What’s the Problem?

Cat lovers who exercise their good intentions by trying to adopt feral cats often find that their new addition to the family doesn’t want to be an indoor cat – and he may show it by being aggressive.Adopted adult feral cats tend to get in fights with other pets, scratch children without provocation, and don’t fully grasp the concept of the litter box.In other words, feral cats like to do their own thing and they don’t care whose house or yard they mess up in the process.Feral cats that hang out around your home can also cause problems for your domesticated fur babies. Some domesticated cats can feel threatened and get extremely stressed out when they sense another cat encroaching on their territory. Even if there’s a wall and a window between them and their perceived foe.To avoid any problems with your home, your yard, other animals, and especially your precious pets, it’s best to deal with the problem as soon as it begins.

Why are there feral cats?

If they don’t have early contact with people, the kittens of stray or feral cats will become feral themselves, too fearful to be handled or adopted. Since a female cat can become pregnant as early as five months of age, the number of feral cats in a neighborhood can rapidly increase if cats aren’t spayed or neutered.

Where do community cats live?

Community cats typically live in a colony (a group of related cats). The colony occupies and defends a specific territory where food (a restaurant dumpster or a person who feeds them) and shelter (beneath a porch, in an abandoned building, etc.) are available. Although feral cats may be seen by people who feed them, strangers may not realize that feral cats are living nearby because they rarely see them. Stray cats tend to be much more visible, may vocalize and may approach people in search of food or shelter. Stray cats may join a colony or defend a territory of their own.

How can cat overpopulation be solved?

Nuisance behaviors, such as urinating and defecating in someone’s yard or garden, digging in someone’s yard or garden, jumping on someone’s car and upsetting an owned cat are the greatest concerns that the general public has about outdoor cats.Overpopulation is a serious concern as well. In the United States, approximately two percent of the 30 to 40 million community (feral and stray) cats have been spayed or neutered. These cats produce around 80 percent of the kittens born in the U.S. each year. Although 85 percent of the estimated 75 to 80 million pet cats in the U.S. are already spayed or neutered, many have kittens before they are spayed or neutered. Those kittens, especially if they are allowed outdoors, add to the number of outdoor cats and the problems associated with them.Shelters in a community with a large population of outdoor cats who aren’t spayed or neutered may experience these problems:In addition, shelters receive many nuisance complaints about outdoor cats, including:Sign up to receive our exclusive e-book full of training techniques, problem-solving and important information about caring for your pet.

Why can’t animal shelters rescue feral cats?

Many people see a cat who seems homeless and start feeding the cat. Ideally, the person quickly does more to help the cat:Once a cat or colony of cats has been TNR-ed, it’s ideal if a dedicated caretaker provides food, water and shelter, monitors the cats for sickness or injury and TNRs new feral cats who arrive. Ideally, kittens young enough to be socialized and new tame cats who arrive are removed from the colony for possible adoption.Many dedicated caretakers pay for TNR themselves to help improve the lives of cats and reduce their numbers. Without TNR and a dedicated caretaker trapping new cats who show up, the population of the colony could increase.

Why don’t feeding bans eliminate community cats?

The logic behind bans on feeding feral cats is that if there is no food available, the cats will go away. This rarely happens.First, cats are territorial animals who can survive for weeks without food and will not easily or quickly abandon their territory. As they grow hungrier and more desperate, they tend to venture closer to homes and businesses in search of food. Despite the effort to starve them out, the cats will also continue to reproduce, resulting in the deaths of many kittens.Second, feeding bans are nearly impossible to enforce. A person who is determined to feed the cats will usually succeed without being detected. Repeated experience has shown that people who care about the cats will go to great lengths to feed starving animals. In addition, there may be more than one feeder and other sources of food, including dumpsters, garbage cans and other animals.

What is socialization?

When we say a cat is “socialized” we mean she is accustomed to and enjoys companionship with people. To socialize a cat means to acclimate her to human touch, human spaces, and human sights, smells, and sounds. It’s a process that’s influenced by many factors of a cat’s life and takes time and effort from compassionate people.Kittens becomes socialized by interacting with people—being held, spoken to, and played with—from an early age. If a kitten does not become accustomed to people holding her and petting her within this crucial window, she will grow up apprehensive of humans and will not be suited to or happy living in homes.

Stray:

Pet and stray cats are socialized to people.Feral cats are not socialized to people. While they are socialized to their feline family members and bonded to each other, they do not have that same relationship with people.

Pregnancy, Nursing, Kittens

They may show signs of familiarity, such as a tail up or hanging out on a caregiver’s porch, but these behaviors are usually limited to the cat’s interaction with the caregiver and only develop after building a relationship over time. It’s important to note that this behavior does not mean that the cat is a good candidate for living indoors.