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Why Care About Feral Cats?

Feline breeding season, also called "kitten season," occurs in the warm months of the year beginning in March and running through October. This is when shelters and cat clinics see a rise in kitten intake as they require medical evaluation, treatment and care.

Feral cats are not like domestic cats; and if they are adults, they never will be. Feral cats, also known as community cats, are free-roaming felines that were born and raised in the wild. These homeless cats do not work well with other companion pets and generally do not get along with humans. They can be aggressive with poor behaviors and carry diseases to humans and pets such as tick diseases; rabies; and toxoplasmosis and giardiasis. While they are deemed "unadoptable" as adults, they can be socialized if caught at a young age.

They cannot enter into homes and they shouldn't be taken to cat shelters or humane societies. (Community cats have a high risk of being euthanized if placed in the care of animal shelters.)

What can be done for feral cat management?

As of 2018, there were an estimated 58 million feral cats in the United States; and this is a concern for homeowners with companion pets and small children. Homeowners that wish to rid homeless cats from properties should consider getting involved or starting a trap-neuter-release program in their own neighborhood. TNR Programs work with animal clinics to spay/neuter homeless cats, thus reducing the homeless cat population. This is the most humane way to prevent homeless cats from being born into the wild and to block the spread of diseases to people and pets.

How to start a TNR Program?

TNR Programs require a structured plan to get started and help from the community. A request for assistance from cat lovers and local volunteers to capture feral cats is a good start. Capturing cats requires box traps or drop traps with bait for best results. Cat food, along with fresh water, can be set out in unset traps for one to two weeks prior to trapping day to help lure in cats. Finally, community cat program coordinators require a cat enclosure or some form of shelter to keep cats secured during the humane trapping and release stages. Outdoor cat enclosures allow cats to stay in their natural surroundings around other feral cats.

Notes:

  • Feral cats will not approach you. They will be skittish and quiet.
  • Will not eat in front of humans.
  • May come out at night.

TNR feral cat programs eliminate new litters being born into the wild without homes and reduce the number of homeless cats running around neighborhoods. This is the best method for controlling the homeless cat population in the United States and protecting companion animals from diseases.

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