Today is National Feral Cat Day. An estimated 70 million cats live outdoors, getting by the best they can, often in social groups called colonies. Unlike stray cats who enjoy human companionship but find themselves without it, feral cats aren’t socialized with humans, so they are afraid of them. So you can’t just adopt a feral cat that happens to live near you.
Ways to Help Feral Cats
If you can’t adopt feral cats, what can you do for them? You can help take care of your local colonies by making sure they have food and shelter. Something else you can do is very important: get them neutered to prevent their having lots and lots of kittens. Areas like Florida have kittens all year round, and overpopulation can happen in a hurry. Feral cats can be trapped, neutered, eartipped to identify that they are neutered, and then returned (TNR) to their colonies where they can live out their lives but not continue to reproduce. Groups like Alley Cat Allies can teach you more about how that is done.
Many communities have groups that actively help organize affordable spays and neuters for feral cats going through the TNR process. Our local group, Alley Cat Allies, even has an agreement with our county shelter that they can get the feral catss out and return them to their colonies. This is somewhat unusual, and animal control in most areas of the country doesn’t make extra provisions for feral cats. In fact, feral cats usually die in shelters because they aren’t adoptable.
What can you do where you live to help feral cats? First of all, you can spay and neuter your own cats so that you don’t risk accidentally contributing to the feral cat population in your area. You can feed feral cats. If you do feed them, check to see if you have an organization in your community to help you with trap, neuter, and return.
Also, if you live in a cold climate, you can build shelters for feral cats. Winter is coming, and feral cats will appreciate a place to escape the weather.
Most important, spread the word that feral cats are part of the community, too, and that they deserve our care and concern.