Trap, Neuter, Return

 

THE LIFE OF A FERAL OR TIMID STRAY CAT

 

Many times cats that are considered feral or wild are just frightened domestic pets that have been abandoned and left to fend for themselves, often unneutered.  Once in care they soon show their true characters and are found to be friendly and affectionate.  Even cats considered feral or wild can turn into loving, trusting and loyal companions if given time and patience.  If nursing feral mothers can be brought into care before their kittens are too old then the kittens are just as tame as a domestic kitten.  If brought into care slightly older, they can still be "socialized" and eventually become as friendly and trusting as domestic kittens. 

Feral and timid strays live an often precarious life and many kittens don't even reach adulthood.  They are considered vermin by pest control companies who trap and dispose of them, not always humanely.  Many people are unaware of ferals because they are shy and nervous of people and usually stay hidden during the day.  Calls for help with feral cats often only surface when a litter of kittens is found in a garden or outbuilding.

 

The responsibility of feral cats lies with humans as they are the result of the human desire to have cats as pets.  They exist because adult pet cats were not neutered and after being abandoned, thrown out or because they strayed produced litters of kittens in hidden "nests" outside.   These kittens grew without human contact and became nervous, and they went on to have more kittens who grew to be feral.  They are not the same as true "wild" cats and with patience and kindness many can revert back to the domestic cat they once were, or learn to trust and show affection to their feeder or carer.  Kittens can be socialized and become as friendly as domestic kittens if given time.  Others remain feral and avoid humans wherever possible but still rely on them for food, often scavenging around dustbins, back alleys and gardens.  These cats live a short and fretful life. 

Unneutered females can become pregnant repeatedly, struggle to find safe situations to rear their kittens and are constantly hungry.  Before they have regained their strength and their kittens have become independent they become pregnant again.  A feral mother rarely succeeds in feeding two litters of kittens at the same time and  some inevitably suffer.  Unneutered male cats wander and fight for territory and food and soon deteriorate due to starvation, infected wounds and disease. 

NEUTERING ASSISTANCE

Feral cat numbers would be greatly reduced if pet cats were neutered.  Feral Cat Welfare does not have the funds available to support reduced cost neutering but if cat owners are on benefits or low income half price or free vouchers can be obtained from Cats Protection.  There are many Cats Protection branches around the UK that are run by volunteers, some of whom may be able to help with the trapping, neutering and return of feral cats.  They supply neutering vouchers to the public for their own cats, dependent upon income, and assist with funding the neutering of larger colonies of feral cats by providing grants.   

If you know of any domestic or feral cats in need of neutering, please contact Cats Protection on 03000 12 12 12 who may be able to assist.  You will also find a list of local Branches on the Catchat website:   www.catchat.org 

 

Protecting Wildlife

The Trustees of Feral Cat Welfare care for wildlife just as much as the cats they rescue. We always suggest to new owners of cats that they keep their cats in at night to help reduce their hunting and give wildlife a chance. This is particularly important during the spring and early summer months when parent birds are frantically feeding their young from dawn onwards. If you don't already keep your cat in at night, please consider doing so to give the birds and other wildlife a chance to live. Cat owners can significantly help to reduce bird kills by cats by taking the following measures: Put a bell on the cat's collar. Keep cats indoors at dawn and dusk when birds are most vulnerable. Keep cats well fed, so they are less likely to hunt with full determination.  Site bird food appropriately. It is unwise to place feed on the ground near bushes, where cats can lurk unnoticed. Instead, place hanging feeders within 20m of trees/hedges where the birds can quickly seek safety if they are threatened by predators - see more details below. Erect a low fence around ground feeders to prevent cats pouncing on birds. Fire a water pistol at cats as they enter the bird feeding area. Despite the water being completely harmless they will soon learn to avoid the area.