Feral Cats: Taking Over Your Neighborhood?

feral cats, stray cats, animal shelter

Feral cats are shunned in many neighborhoods because they have a reputation of damaging properties and causing a lot of noise. Fortunately, there is a humane solution for dealing with these wild felines.

Feral cats differ from feline strays and pets. They’re the offspring of lost or abandoned cats and live their entire lives outdoors in territorial groups known as colonies. They’re unaccustomed to humans and are highly unlikely to become tamed pets. Experts estimate that there are tens of millions feral cats in the U.S.

Feral cat colonies can negatively affect your neighborhood. These cats are noisy during the mating season and their numbers grow rapidly, reproducing two to three times a year. They may take shelter in your shed or under your porch. Feral cats usually mark their territory, leaving an unpleasant odor. And they search for food in trash cans or hunt birds (though they prefer rodents).

There are some basic tactics for solving the feral cat problem, but they hardly work. For instance, some believe that if you don’t feed the cats they’ll go away, but they can hunt for food. Trapping and removing the colony doesn’t work because a new colony will simply move in. And taking them to animal shelters hardly works, because they aren’t considered adoptable.

Experts agree that Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) is the best strategy. Catching, neutering, and returning a feral cat changes their behavior. It keeps their population low and limits their mating/fighting noise, roaming habits, and odor. While some animal shelters may perform TNR, its most often done by special caretakers and concerned citizens.

If you’ve been having problems with feral cats in your area here are three humane and Mindful Animal solutions to consider:

  1. Contact an agency. If you have feral cats research rescue groups in your area. Look for “colony caretakers.” These groups will “keep an eye on the cats, provide food, water, shelter, spaying/neutering, and emergency medical care” for feral felines.
  2. Become a member. If you would like to personally help these feral cats, consider joining these colony caretaker groups. Then you’ll have the resources and assistance to help feral cats in local areas.
  3. Do it yourself. With research and ingenuity you can solve the problem yourself. You can use natural cat repellents (vinegar, coffee grounds, or orange and lemon peels) to protect your yard or garden. You can also Trap-Neuter-Return the felines yourself. Start by feeding and keeping records of the feral cats (so you’ll know how many you’ll have to catch). Set up humane traps, find low cost spay/neuter services and return the cats.