Chances are if you reside in a rural or perhaps suburban environment, you live close to feral cats – skittish, roughened wild cats that may look like they need some human help (company website), only to run away when approached. These cats are not tame and in no way eager to become a house cat and are perfectly capable of living outside on their own, whether it damages some of the ecosystems or not.
If you end up surrounded by those untamed creatures, you have several alternatives. One, you could leave them be and claim they are just not your problem. This is a favored solution for many but by no means a good one. There are over 70 million feral cats in the U.S.A. alone and scientists blame the extinction of thirty-three species of bird on that huge number of cats: cats who hunt, kill and eat all sorts of birds, rodents and reptiles. This overpopulation could quickly result in the extinction of different birds and maybe even some prey mammals. Plus, who wants the reek of a feral cat spraying its land underneath and around their carport? Yuck.
The second option would be to start feeding them. This is a better choice, but still not ideal as your third option, which we will discuss in a moment. Feeding these cats at set times during the mornings or evenings and setting a homemade shelter for them is a fantastic idea – cats that are not hungry will pounce half-heartedly and are far more likely to end up empty-pawed after the hunt. But this also results in several other issues: spreading diseases and overpopulation. Diseases like toxoplasmosis, parasites, and rabies can spread through a bite or scratch when a neighborhood pet mingles with a feral. Subsequently, diseases can be spread into the unsuspecting owners when they are animal interacts with them. The illnesses can cause death in some occasions, and grief follows after an animal’s death due to the sicknesses. This means that the disease could be spread to your outdoor cats and potentially to you and your loved ones!
Along with this, cats are like rabbits when it comes to reproducing and if none of the cats are sterilized, there will be kittens. This adds to the population, increasing the risk factor of all the previously mentioned points. As the cats’ caretaker, you’d also need to increase the food you put out for the animals daily due to the extra mouths to feed. You would also be given the job of taming and adopting out the kittens – and just given a specific window of time to do this.
The last option of Trap-Neuter-Return (T-N-R). This entailed trapping the cats using humane, catch-and-release traps before getting them releasing them again. This eliminates almost all the issues with having feral cats around your lawn. Now that there are neutered, they won’t be needing any more kittens, they will be vaccinated and dewormed so that they won’t spread parasites or diseases, and they won’t feel the urge to spray their territory as much.
Don’t be afraid to receive your local shelter or the community involved!
That is where you start feeding the cats. Keeping them fed once or twice a day ensures they are well-fed. This boosts their immune system as well, making them less likely to contract potential sicknesses that are not eliminated by vaccines or deworming. And now that they are feeding daily, they are less likely to bother so much with searching.
Feral cats aren’t bad. They help keep mice away from the barn, are interesting to watch and all they require is a bowl of food every day and space to be wild, free-roaming cats. All you’ve got to do is give them that chance!