Caring for Ferals

IMG_0718_webOur Cats in Need team members are often involved in more than just caring for a few foster cats in their homes. Some of them are also involved in the care of feral cats and feral cat colonies.

What is a feral cat? First, get your mind out of the ‘dangerous, rabid, and going to attack and kill me’ mindset – a feral cat is simply a cat that isn’t a ‘people cat’ – they’re not cuddly, they’re living wild.  With that comes a greater fear of people (we’re predators!) so you’re not likely to encounter one coming up to you.

However, many feral cats are not the famed hunters of their lion and tiger ancestors.  Rather, they’re living in an urban environment where resources are scarce, and not everyone in the colony can live on the few rodents or birds they can bring down.

Which is where cat lovers like some of our Cats in Need team members come in: they manage and care for a feral colony, making sure there’s food and water available for all.

The goal in feral colony management is not just to keep them fed, but also to attempt to curtail the excess kittens that unspayed and unnutered cats produce in great numbers.  So they’re part of the TNR process – Trap, neuter, return – in which they catch their colony members, have them ‘fixed’ and then return them to their colony to live out their natural feral lifespan…without producing huge numbers of kittens.

But we love kittens!

Well, yes, but kittens quickly grow into cats.   And considering that your tiny kitten can become pregnant at 4 months, and have up to 6 litters (averaging 4-6 kittens per litter) in one year, you can quickly see how cute kittens can grow into an epidemic of cats… cats that don’t get homes.

Cats in Need is committed to feral colony care and management. Look for more stories and updates about this important community service our team performs here as we start a series of articles about feral colony management.

Want to learn more about Feral Cats, TNR, and colony management? Alley Cat Alllies has great resources to help!