Feral cats are a lot like us house cats. In fact, physically, they are exactly like we are. They have the same body parts, inside and outside, and they like doing a lot of the same things (scratching on stuff, stalking prey and finding nice places to nap). We all even like eating the same things — basically anything we can catch and kill or cat food, whatever is available at any given moment. But when it comes to what goes on inside our heads, housecats and feral cats could not be more different.
Feral cats fear and avoid humans, and it’s not because they dislike being kissed. They are wild and consider humans a threat. Unlike friendly stray cats, who are loners in search of a home, feral cats often live in colonies and will fight any attempt to be tamed. The life of a feral cat is a vicious circle of danger, illness, and repeated breeding — unless humans step in and help.
Yes, even though feral cats are not human-friendly, humans can still be of service to them — and to the community — by controlling feral cat colonies. Through a Trap-Neuter-Return program, feral cat populations can be kept from expanding. When feral cats are neutered and looked after, they cause less of a nuisance — they fight and vocalize less, are less likely to spread disease to other local cats (cats are given vaccinations when neutered), and the colony decreases in number over time because the cats are not reproducing. It has been proven time and again that TNR is not only the most humane way to control feral cats — it is the most effective.
If you are a human, there are many things you can do for feral cats in your neighborhood. You can find out about all of the suggestions below — and more — at the Alley Cat Allies website.
- Learn how to care for neighborhood ferals, if there are some near your home or work.
- Educate others on the wisdom of a Trap-Neuter-Release program.
- Find out what is going on in your community regarding feral cats. Some town officials and residents do not understand that TNR is more effective than trapping and killing. Fight against laws that prohibit TNR and colony care.
- Donate to a group that helps feral cats, whether it’s a large organization like Alley Cat Allies, or a local group that needs food or shelter for their feral colony.
- Show your support by taking the Alley Cat Ally photo pledge. (I did!)
If you are a cat, here are five ways you can celebrate National Feral Cat Day:
- Hide under the bed all day. Refuse to come out no matter what.
- Cringe and hiss whenever your humans try to pet you. Swipe at them if they persist.
- Only eat what you can hunt and kill all day.
- If you can’t find anything to hunt, then knock over the trashcan in the kitchen and dig through it to see if there’s anything to eat.
- Be glad you don’t have to do any of the above the other 364 days out of the year.