Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The Purrfect 10: Things To Know About Feral Cats

We love reading and researching anything and everything about cats, and wanted to find a fun and unique way to share the interesting facts we learn with you! Since top 10 lists are very popular in the blogosphere, we created The Purrfect 10 as a way to present 10 educational or fascinating tidbits about a wide variety of cat-related topics, everything from health issues to cat breeds to famous felines.


Today is Global Cat Day, taking the place of National Feral Cat Day, which was started by Alley Cat Allies in 2001. It's a day for people around the world to stand up for policies that protect all cats in their communities. Since feral cats are among our most misunderstood creatures, we wanted to take this opportunity to present some important things to know about these kitties that quietly live their solitary lives in the shadows...

1) Feral cats have lived alongside people for more than 10,000 years. They are also commonly known as outdoor cats or community cats and live outside in groups known as "colonies".

2) Stray and feral cats are not the same. A stray cat is a pet cat that is lost or abandoned. Stray cats are accustomed to contact with people and are tame. Feral cats have not been socialized to people, and therefore are unadoptable. Feral kittens can often be adopted into homes, but there is a crucial window of time during which they must be socialized or they will remain feral.

3) Even though it's natural to feel sorry for them, feral and free-roaming cats are generally not suffering. They find shelter and food, avoid people, fight off predators and are more likely to die from natural causes than by euthanasia at a veterinary clinic. How is that any different from the raccoons or squirrels in your own background? Feral cats are living a natural lifestyle just as their ancestors have done for thousands of years. Why kill an animal living a natural lifestyle simply because it isn’t living with people? Of course their life isn’t as comfortable and problem-free as the pampered house cat sleeping beside you, but it can still be a good life, especially when caring people step in to help look out for them.


4) Feral cats are not the primary cause of wildlife depletion. Humans are, thanks to habitat loss, urbanization, pollution, and environmental degradation.

5) Feral cats do not attack people. Because of their lack of socialization, a feral cat’s first instinct is to run away and hide from humans out of fear, certainly not to harm them. Just like any other animal, they will only attack when they are trapped or feel threatened.

6) Feral cats should not be taken to the shelter. More than 70% of all cats who enter shelters die there, including virtually 100% of feral cats.

7) Ferals are not unhealthy cats with shorter life spans. They live full, healthy lives outdoors—there is no reason for them to be killed in shelters. The nation’s animal shelter system is the #1 cause of death for cats. With gentle and patient human intervention, a feral can reach a life expectancy similar to that of an indoor cat.


8) Trapping and removing feral cats will not solve the problem. Cats reside in a certain location for 2 reasons: there is a food source and shelter. Once cats are removed, new ones will move into the area and begin breeding. The only trapping that works is a local community’s Trap-Neuter-Release (TNR) program where neutered and vaccinated cats are returned to their outdoor home. The colony’s population stabilizies…no more kittens!

9) Feral cats are not a disease risk to humans and pets. Most diseases that infect cats can only be spread from cat to cat, not from cat to human. Infectious diseases are spread through direct contact, and since ferals avoid humans whenever possible, they pose no risk. You are much more likely to get sick from the person standing in line next to you at the grocery store than from a feral cat. As far as posing a risk to our pets, TNR programs minimize this risk by vaccinating and neutering them, making them less likely to fight, which is the most common way disease is spread.

10) How can the average person help ferals? To start, we can be their voice. Educate yourself about feral cats and advocate for them to your friends, neighbors, and on social media. Donate money to the rescuers that work “in the field” practicing TNR and caring for feral colonies. If there’s no TNR program in your community, work to establish one. If there already is, more volunteers are always needed. Do you have room to take in a foster? Kittens that are young enough can still be socialized, and foster parents are always needed to help care for them until they can be neutered and put up for adoption. One small room in your home may not seem like much, but it can change the world for a cat in need.

Have you ever cared for a feral cat?

17 comments:

Summer at sparklecat.com said...

I wish people knew more about feral cats - if they did, they might be more willing to help them, and understand them.

Momma Kat and Her Bear Cat said...

I've long wondered if a cat's odds are better outside than if you trapped and took it to a shelter. That's a sad state of affairs - when outside is better than inside. I still believe most cats aren't equipped to live outside. Bear certainly wasn't.

The Menagerie Mom said...

I am so glad you shared these wonderful 10 facts about feral cats. I wish more people understood these facts about ferals. I have a huge soft spot for feral cats, in part because both my boy Evan and my girl Eddy were kittens from feral colonies out in the country. There are no true feral colonies in my neighborhood, but there are some independent cats who are either long-time strays or ferals. One of them comes to my house for food every single morning, and most evenings as well. He hisses and spits at me every single time I exit the house with his food, and he certainly won't let me touch him, but he waits for the food and eats it nonetheless. My dad helped me build a shelter for him and any other cats who come by, and I'm in the process of prepping it for winter with bedding and an outdoor-safe heating system. I often do worry about outdoor cats' safety, but you are so right about feral cats often being safe and equipped for survival.

The Island Cats said...

We have Chip and Slim the Garden Center cats. The dad-guy takes care of them and they live a pretty good life at the garden center. They have become more friendly, too.

Patricia T said...

Wonderful post, Melissa! Such good information. We put out food for cats that come every night.

Rene said...

We have done TNR (working with a local shelter) three times, and next week we are trying for our fourth cat, a male who we've been trying to catch for nearly two years. One person CAN make a difference!

ANGEL ABBYGRACE said...

This posting needs to be read by so many to understand better about feral cats!

Eastside Cats said...

An excellent post! My feral colony contains only two cats, but they have shelter, food, water, and attention.
Feral Cats Rock!
TNR Works!

Random Felines said...

well said. our rescue does a LOT of TNR. we care for a feral girl (our Allie) and have done TNR in our neighborhood. plus we now have a pair of house ferals too

World of Animals, Inc. said...

Happy Global Cat Day. This was a wonderful post for people to better understand about feral cats. This has so much good information about how these cats live their lives on the outside. Thanks for the share. Have a wonderful day.
World of Animals

Lola The Rescued Cat said...

It's so sad that people don't understand feral cats better. If they were better understood we think they would be more respected, and people would embrace TNR. Our paws are crossed for a better future.

Cats Herd You said...

Paws up! Feral cats are part of the commmunity, and they're up to us to care for. We hope Global Cat Day raises awareness.

meowmeowmans said...

Wonderful post! We wish more people knew more about feral cats. The TNR community does really great work here. There are a bunch of feral cat colonies around managed and cared for by volunteers.

pilch92 15andmeowing said...

Excellent post. I have none living near me, but I have helped transport to TNR for some in another town.

Lone Star Cats said...

Great info! Angelique wuz born in a feral colony.

Three Chatty Cats said...

What a great post about feral cats!

Terra Heck said...

These are all great tips and advice, some of which I didn't know until reading this article. I like the idea of TNR. I don't believe it's offered in my area.