Feral Cat Day – How You Can Help!
October 16th is a very important day – it is National Feral Cat Day! Unfortunately, feral cats have been stuck with a bad rep. They are “wild” and “homeless” and “dispensable.” NOT TRUE! In today’s post, we are going to debunk these myths and give a few options on how you can help any feral cats you may find in your community.
Contrary to what some may believe, feral cats* ARE domesticated cats – just like your very own house cat. The difference between a feral cat and your cat is that a feral cat has not been socialized with people the way your house cat has been. They are wary and scared of humans. Can you blame them? Wouldn’t you be scared of a giant that’s 10 times bigger than you?! Feral cats will probably run if you approach them, and they will hiss and growl at you. If you try to grab them, you will probably get bitten. It’s not because the cats are wild and mean. They are just scared. This is why feral cats are usually not adoptable.
*Feral cats are not to be confused with stray cats. A stray cat is one that has been socialized with humans – they probably once belonged to someone and maybe got lost or were abandoned.
Though feral cats are not adoptable, they are not homeless either. Their home is the outdoors – the woods behind your house, the storm drains on your street, the crawl space under your home, or maybe even the engine of your car. Obviously, the lives of feral cats are not the easiest, but there are things we can do to make them more comfortable. If you would like to help out a local feral colony or even just the single feral cat living near your home, there are safe and easy ways to do so.
1) Feed them.
The first step in caring for feral cats is feeding them. You will probably want to feed them dry food rather than wet food because wet food can spoil if left out too long and will attract ants and other insects. Putting the food in an out-of-the-way place is also a good idea. That way the cats will feel more secure and comfortable when eating. Make sure you put out water bowls as well!
And of course, the feeding station and dishes should be kept clean.
2) Put out or build feral cat shelters.
Feral cat shelters are a wonderful way to give the cats a warm and safe place to live. They also make great places for pregnant cats to give birth, and they are especially helpful in the winter as well.
Building a feral cat shelter doesn’t have to be complicated either! The first example below is made using plastic bins, styrofoam, and hay. (Click here for instructions on how to make a feral cat shelter from plastic bins.)
The third and probably most important thing you can do to help feral cats is to Trap, Neuter, and Return them. Though a controversial topic, the ASPCA says that TNR is “the most humane, effective and financially sustainable strategy for controlling free-roaming cat populations.” Spaying/neutering cats relieves them of the stresses of mating, pregnancy, fighting, and roaming. Not to mention that a step in the TNR process is vaccinating the cats as well. After TNR, the cats’ overall health improves, and the feral cat population will decrease if they can no longer reproduce.
For detailed instructions on how to TNR, read the Alley Cat Allies’ step-by-step guide.
Caring for a feral colony is a big undertaking and is not one that should be taken lightly. However, it is an undertaking that can be very rewarding. To quote Jackson Galaxy, “Whether you call them family cats, house cats, feral cats, community cats, alley cats…it doesn’t matter. They are our cats, our community cats, and they deserve our love and our protection.”
Thanks to Alley Cat Allies for sharing the above video with me.
About Alley Cat Allies
Alley Cat Allies is the only national advocacy organization dedicated to the protection and humane treatment of cats. Founded in 1990, today Alley Cat Allies has over half a million supporters and helps tens of thousands of individuals, communities, and organizations save and improve the lives of millions of cats and kittens nationwide. Its website is www.alleycat.org.