Also known as a “community” cats, feral cats are born and raised in the wild, or have been abandoned or lost and reverted to wild ways in order to survive.
Feral cats have been living outdoors alongside humans for more than10,000 years.
While some feral cats tolerate a bit of human contact, most are not socialized to people .
Feral cats typically live in groups called colonies and have strong social bonds with their colony members.
Feral cats make their home wherever they find shelter and a food source , usually near humans.
Feral cats are a domesticated species and, therefore, are protected under many State’s anti-cruelty laws.
FERAL CATS: MYTHS AND FACTS
Due to their preference for the wild and their wariness of outsiders, feral felines have gained a less-than-positive reputation.
Its time to debunk a few of the myths surrounding feral cats and work toward a better understanding of how to protect them.
Every creature who seems unapproachable should be treated with kindness, respect for personal space, and attention to humane practices.
Misconceptions about Our Feral Friends
Myth: Feral cats transmit diseases to humans and other animals.
In actuality, feral kitties can be as healthy as your average household cat! Sure, those who are left to their own devices may have an easier time contracting diseases in the great outdoors, but with the right medical care, a feral cat colony can be hardy, happy, and disease-free.
Myth: Feral cats attack children and adults.
It’s VERY unlikely that, unless directly provoked or intimidated, a feral cat will ever attempt to hurt you. Just remember that they’re as nervous around you as you might be around them – give ‘em some breathing room so they won’t see you as a threat.
Have you ever wondered what distinguishes a stray from a feral cat? If your new kitty friend can’t keep her paws off you, she’s likely a stray who’s socialized – or, in other words, familiar with and friendly to humans.
Our feral friends are more cautious and elusive, ready to protect themselves with the power of invisibility. Give them some space… to them, humans might as well be from another planet! If a caty isn’t opposed to some loving, she’s probably just lost her way home.
Another way to easily distinguish a feral from a stray is that a spayed or neutered feral will be marked with a tipped ear, denoting that they have been fixed and don’t need to be bothered.
You’d think they have some sort of cat-tailored energy drink to keep them on their toes from dawn till dusk! In fact, they’re more than four times more active than the average housecat! While the latter spends about 3 percent of their time in a state of high activity, feral cats are blessed with a natural buzz that allows them to spend 14 percent of their time roaming, romping, and scavenging.
Feral Cat colonies don’t enjoy as long a lifespan as housecats, due to environmental hazards and the scarcity of food.
These guys are no quitters, though! Au contraire – they’re more than willing to go dumpster diving! Without the help of a caretaker and spay-neuter services, a feral cat is unlikely to survive two years.
Human intervention, if gentle and patient, enables ferals to reach a life expectancy similar to that of indoor cats.
Think euthanasia is the most effective method of reducing feral cat population? Think again!
Euthanasia can ultimately worsen the problem of feral cat overpopulation.
When colony of feral cats are killed or forcibly removed from their homes, other cats will take their place, filling the vacuum in search of new resources.
What can we do to combat overpopulation instead? Trap-Neuter-Return.
By safely trapping ferals; transporting them to a Veterinary Care Center to be spayed, neutered, and vaccinated; and releasing them back into the wild, the kitty cycle is stopped in its tracks and ensures that the colony can’t produce any more members.
A spayed or neutered feral cat will usually be given a tipped ear following surgery. Added benefits of the TNR program? Reduced aggression and competition for mates among ferals, along with longer lives.
Essentially, feral cats belong to the community and it’s the community’s responsibility to ensure their care.
Because feral cats are not socialized and not adoptable, they do not belong in animal pounds or shelters where virtually 100% of them are killed.
Instead, feral cats should be humanely trapped, neutered, vaccinated and returned (TNVR) to their outdoor home. Find our more about TNVR and why it is the most effective, economical and humane means of community cat population control.
Although feral cats do not pose a danger to humans or the community, it is understandable that not everyone enjoys having them in their yards. There are simple things you can do to deter cats from taking up residence on your property.
We will address alternative methods in future articles. Stay tuned.