Feral Felines: How to Help
Do you have any feral in your area? It’s likely you do. A feral cat is one that is born and raised in the wild, or has become wild in order to survive after being abandoned or lost. These cats are often too scared to be handled by humans and often live in groups called colonies.
Sadly, life is not easy for these cats, and most do not live to be older than 2 years. Some colonies are lucky enough to have a caretaker in their neighborhood that helps to provide them with food and fresh water, and a safe, outdoor shelter in extreme weather. With the help of these caretakers, many feral cats may live longer than two years. Still, it’s a hard life for the feral cat.
Be a Good Samaritan
Most feral cats are pretty self-sufficient when it comes to living outdoors. However, during more severe weather, such as the heat of summer or dead of winter, these resourceful felines appreciate whatever help they can find. Here are a few things you can do to help:
- Give them shelter. A discreet enclosure in a quiet location can provide a sheltered area for kitties to huddle away from the elements. Insulating the shelter with straw or elevating it off of the ground also helps to conserve heat or keep the shelter cool in the summer months.
- Provide food and water. Regardless of the time of year, all animals need food and water. During summer months, the simple act of keeping an accessible bowl of fresh water is a kindness that will not go unrewarded. Likewise, cats need calories, particularly if they are trying to stay warm in the winter months. Feeding outdoor pets (feral or otherwise) on a regular schedule enables them to know when to expect their meal, and allows them indulge before the food and water has a chance to freeze or spoil. Consider providing a feeding station that has a roof and sides to protect feeding felines from the elements.
- Be on the look out. Always tap your hood and check under your car before starting it in the winter to be sure that there are no cats in harm’s way. Keep antifreeze out of reach and clean up spills or leaks immediately. This lethal substance is very tasty to cats as well as other animals.
A Humane Solution
Unfortunately, many communities attempt to use outdated methods to deal with cat colonies, including lethal elimination or relocations. Not only are these methods cruel, but they are also ineffective. Currently, Trap-Neuter-Release (TNR) is the only method of population control endorsed by the ASPCA.
This method involves trapping the animal in order to provide them with both vaccinations and a spay or neutering procedure, and then releasing the animal back into “the wild.” Not only does this technique help to curb population growth, but it also stops nuisance behaviors such as spraying and fighting, as well as the spread of diseases. Likewise, it also prevents shelters from becoming overrun with feral cats, which are often not ideal candidates for adoption.
If you find that your neighborhood has become home to a feral colony, do not contact your local humane shelter. Often, local shelters are not equipped with a TNR program, and instead just euthanize the animals.
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