Feral FAQ Continued

by Mary Fariss

Don’t Feral Cats Kill Birds?

While feral cats do kill some birds, they prefer to kill rodents. Other issues, such as the decline of natural habitat and use of pesticides, have a greater negative impact on bird populations.

How Can I Keep Feral Cats Out of My Yard?
Whether feral cats are roaming your yard, digging up your garden, rooting through your trash or making a home under your porch, there are several types of harmless cat repellents available to help. From sprays and motion-activated sprinklers to ultrasonic animal repellents, these quick and easy solutions, coupled with Trap-Neuter-Return and ongoing management, can help you coexist with your neighborhood cats! Just make sure your product of choice is nontoxic to animals.

Will Animal Shelters Adopt Out Feral Cats?
No, feral cats are not adoptable. The fact is, most are wild animals—so bringing a feral cat into your home is equivalent to bringing in a raccoon. Feral cats make up a large percentage of the four million to six million cats euthanized yearly by U.S. animal shelters. Adopting a feral is seldom the best course of action for either the cat or the prospective owner.

Can I Tame a Feral Cat?
We do not recommend it. While a feral cat might look exactly the same as a pet cat, they're actually very different. Feral cats are wild animals who typically avoid human interaction. They might respond positively to someone who feeds them regularly, but in a captive environment they would regress. When cared for, feral cats are happier outdoors in their own territory—they have their own hierarchies and are able to exhibit their natural behaviors. There is very little success in adopting a truly feral cat. “When I first started doing TNR,” Oldham recalls, “I, like many first-time rescuers, tried to socialize a feral cat. He remained under my bed for over a year before I could even touch him. With so many adoptable domestic cats and kittens who are truly happy being indoors, socializing a feral cat should not be the goal.”

Can I Tame a Semi-Feral Cat?
Some semi-feral cats are actually stray cats who have been abused and are terrified of humans. These cats lack the knowledge to survive on their own, yet are often rejected by established colonies. Some of these cats may be socialized, but it depends on their trust of humans. “Many people wonder how they can tell if a cat is feral or an afraid domestic—that's a hard judgment call,” Oldham states. “My advice in these situations is to trap and neuter the cat and see how he responds when you are holding him for recovery in a quiet space. If he vocalizes to you, affectionately rubs his cheeks on you, he's likely been socialized by people at some point in the past.” It is very important to take caution, especially with cats who seem to straddle the fence between feral and friendly. Getting them to trust people again might be hard and it's possible they might imprint on you only, making them extremely difficult to adopt out. The Urban Cat League is a great resource for socializing semi-feral cats.

Why Can’t the ASPCA Take in Feral Cats and Socialize Them?
Socializing feral cats involves an extreme amount of patience, time and energy and there is no guarantee that the cat will become tame. Unfortunately, with the numerous friendly and adoptable animals the ASPCA already has, resources to socialize feral animals are scarce.

What Is a Colony Caretaker?
A colony caretaker is an individual (or group of individuals) who manages one or more feral colonies in a community. They keep an eye on the cats, providing food, water, shelter, spaying/neutering and emergency medical care. In most cases, organizations and vets know these people because of the community service they provide. Some shelters and rescue groups even give out free or low-cost spay/neuter coupons to colony caretakers.

How Can I Become a Colony Caretaker?
Alley Cat Allies offers a great online community of feral cat caretakers across the country. This community provides excellent tips and support. Here are some key pointers in becoming a colony caretaker:
· Offer your help to established colony caretakers. Ongoing needs include feeding, trapping, transportation to and from the veterinarian, temporary housing for cats after surgery, and fostering and socializing kittens for the purpose of finding them good homes.

· Contact local shelters or welfare groups to see if a TNR workshop is available in your area.

· Start with the cats in your own backyard—educate yourself about TNR and learn to trap cats and have them spayed or neutered.

· If you live in New York City, learn more about the ASPCA’s Mobile Clinic services and call Neighborhood Cats at (212) 330-0033 or visit www.neighborhoodcats.org/ to register for a TNR workshop.
Do You Have Any Tips For Trapping a Cat?
Here are some basic tips to help with TNR rescue:
Trap in dry, temperate weather only.
· Do not feed the cats a full eight hours before trapping, as they must be hungry to enter the trap.

· If you’ll be trapping in an area where pet cats are roaming, please inform your neighbors.

· Tuna and canned cat food work well in traps. Place the food inside the release bar at the back of the trap so the cat is sure to step on the trigger plate when eating.

· Transport the trapped cat to your veterinarian for spaying and neutering immediately upon capture.

· Place a sheet or towel over the trap so the cat feels secure to reduce anxiety.

· Ask that the cat be ear-tipped—have the tip of one ear snipped during surgery—to help future rescuers identify him. This is a painless and risk-free procedure.

I Don’t Live in NYC and Can’t Find Anyone to Help Me With TNR. What Do I Do?
The good news is, you will never be alone! There are very valuable resources available on the Web and via feral cat organizations that will help guide you through the process. Visit the Alley Cat Allies online community to gather ideas and expertise. It’s also a good idea to reach out and connect with others, even if they aren’t close by. Also, Neighborhood Cats offers an online workshop, “How to Manage a Feral Cat Colony.” Call or visit you local shelter or veterinary clinic to see if they can put you in touch with someone who can help.

Reality Check
I know what you are thinking. You are hoping that a rescue will take those wild kittens off your hands. You are crossing your fingers when you call them that they can make everything perfect.
They can't.
It's not a perfect world. But I CAN help you to understand the reality of the situation.

The feral cat or kittens you see outside are not ever going to be happy in a home. Even if you want them to be. They won't. Putting them in a home environment would be no different that inviting a raccoon or opossum into your home.

The absolute best thing you can do for these feral cats is to get them spayed and neutered.
Short of that, doing nothing is the worst thing you can do. Allowing them to go on in life intact producing litter after litter is dooming them to a horrible life.

You have the opportunity to get them while they are young. Before they become too wise and trap weary.
You need to trap these kittens now and allow a feral group to get them fixed for you.
Don't be like alot of people who call and learn that most shelters can't take the adorable little fluff balls in and find them a home.
PLEASE DON’T give up all-together, do nothing and watch the number of cats quadruple the following year.

Two cats this summer are 12 next. The following year, the colony will grow to 67. By year three, you will have 372 cats born that YOU could have done something about. Imagine how you will feel knowing that you could have easily taken care of this NOW.

Unfortunately, most people do nothing till they see kittens. What would have been best would have spayed that pregnant female and circumvented these unnecessary births.

Now, friendly cats and kittens are a different story. But there are not nearly enough homes for them all. When you see a pregnant cat, the best thing to do is get her spayed. This will abort the kittens. This is not something that anyone likes to think about. But think about this. If you allow that cat to have her kittens and you even do all the work and find homes for them (GOOD LUCK), then that will mean that 4-6 bright-eyed, sweet little fluff balls will be killed in shelters simply because THERE ARE NOT ENOUGH HOMES FOR ALL THE KITTENS BORN IN the world.
Get the picture? It's not pretty, but it's reality. Think BIG PICTURE and do the right thing

In conclusion:
This has been a lot of facts to absorb but the fact is that education in this matter makes us more aware of how we as the human race can assist in resolving the vast over population problem in the world by doing what is right and getting those cats SPAYED AND NEUTERED.

If you need assistance in finding help from a group to have your pet cat spayed or neutered or if you need help finding a FERAL GROUP to help you with feral cats and kittens that you find, please email me carolinamary50@yahoo.com
I will gladly assist you in seeking a facility to assist you in your area.

Mary F.
North Carolina, USA

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