Most feral cats live in groups or colonies and survive by eating small prey and scraps of food foraged from dumpsters and garbage cans. The term “feral” refers to a previously domesticated animal, like a cat, that is now wild. Feral cats are not socialized to humans and thus don’t seek human attention. When feral cats find a food source, the colony will stabilize and maintain its numbers in the area. Studies show that catching feral cats and bringing them to a humane shelter to be adopted or euthanized does not work. New cats will move in to take the place of the displaced cats from the colony, again stabilizing their numbers.
What does work is TNR – trap, neuter, release. Feral cats are humanely trapped and brought into a veterinarian to be spayed or neutered. The cats are also tested for and vaccinated against Feline Leukemia and Feline AIDs. AFter surgery, one ear is “tipped” to be distinguished among the other cats fo the colony as having been fixed. Then the cat is released back to its colony. The population is stabilized and the lives of the cats in the colony are improved. Once the majority of the colony have been spayed or neutered, behavioral stresses related to mating (fighting and yowling) are reduce. A healthy, happy colony of cats can be properly managed and they can enjoy lifespans similar to pet cats.
Get Informed: Discover the Truth about Feral Cats
Outdoor cats have existed alongside humans for 10,000 years.
They are not a new phenomenon. Feral and stray cats live and thrive in every landscape, from the inner city to rural farmland.
Feral cats are not socialized to people.
And therefore, they are not adoptable. Feral cats don’t belong indoors and are typically wary of us. However, as members of the domestic cat species (just like pet cats), they are protected under state anti-cruelty laws.
Feral cats should not be taken to pounds and shelters.
Feral cats’ needs are not met by the current animal control and shelter system, where animals who are not adoptable are killed. Feral cats live full, healthy lives outdoors—but are killed in shelters. Even no-kill shelters can’t place feral cats in homes. Learn more about the animal control system.
Feral kittens can be adopted.
Feral kittens can often be adopted into homes, but they must be socialized at an early age. There is a crucial window, and if they aren’t handled in time, they will remain feral and therefore unadoptable. Learn more about kittens and socialization.
Feral cats live healthy lives in their outdoor homes.
Feral cats are just as healthy as pet cats—with equally low rates of disease. They have the same lifespans, too. Learn more about feral cat health.
People are the cause of wildlife depletion.
Studies show that the overwhelming causes of wildlife and bird death are habitat loss, urbanization, pollution, and environmental degradation—all caused by humans, not feral cats. Learn more about the human toll on birds.
Catch and kill doesn’t work.
Animal control’s traditional approach for feral cats— catching and killing—is endless and cruel. Cats choose to reside in locations for two reasons: there is a food source (intended or not) and shelter. When cats are removed from a location, new cats move in or survivors breed to capacity. This vacuum-effect is well-documented. Learn more about the vacuum effect.
Trap-Neuter-Return does work.
Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) benefits the cats and the community. Cats are spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and eartipped (the universal symbol of a neutered and vaccinated cat), and then returned to their outdoor home. The colony’s population stabilizes—no more kittens! Trap- Neuter-Return improves their lives and improves their relations with the community—the behaviors and stresses associated with mating stop. Trap-Neuter-Return is the humane, effective approach for feral cats.Learn more about the effectiveness of Trap-Neuter-Return.