Ashton: It’s a special day today: National Feral Cat Day. I want to tell you about it because I started out as a feral cat. I’m one of the lucky ones. I was rescued as an injured kitten and live a safe and well-fed life.
That isn’t how it is for a lot of other cats, though. An estimated 70 million cats just like me or Newton or Pierre live outdoors, getting by the best they can, often in social groups called colonies. Feral cats aren’t socialized with humans, so they are afraid of them, kind of like I am with men. So you can’t just adopt a feral cat that happens to live near you.
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. And this is important: you need to get them neutered to prevent their having lots and lots of kittens. Areas like Florida where I was born 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.
I’m not just lucky to be living life indoors, I also live in a community with an a group, CARE Feline TNR that actively helps organize affordable spays and neuters for feral cats going through the TNR process. They also have an agreement with our county shelter that they can get the ferals out and return them to their colonies. This is really 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.
Big winks and thank you from the bottom of my once-feral heart for helping raise awareness of feral cats!