Today we honor our feral brother and sisters with the help of Alley Cat Allies. National Feral Cat Day began in 2001 as a way to raise awareness, promote TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return), and help make the world a safer, healthier place for feral cats. Here are a few facts about ferals that I have put together for you… and keep reading to the end because I have a surprise!
- Physiologically, feral cats are just like me, and like you kitties out there. The only difference is that they are not hardwired for human contact. They fear humans and think more like wild animals — which is what they have become, raised away from humans and living by their wits.
- Feral kittens learn their wild behaviors through their mothers, but can learn to form a bond with humans, especially between two and seven weeks of age. The older they get, the less likely they are to become tame. With patience and hard work, some older kittens and adult ferals may become used to humans, but there is no guarantee.
- Although some bird groups try to claim that feral cats are responsible for declining songbird populations, the truth that is humans destroyed a lot of birds’ natural habitat and that has had a far greater impact on these populations. Feral cats much prefer to capture easier prey — ground animals like mice, voles, and lizards. In fact, a significant amount of a feral cat’s diet is garbage, the easiest “prey” of all.
- A well-managed feral colony gets rid of many problems that humans complain about. Cats that are spayed, neutered, vaccinated and fed regularly at a station rarely have loud fights (there are no mating battles anymore), and they don’t spread disease. Their numbers do not increase since no kittens are being born. In fact, over time, the population decreases through attrition.
- Did you know that in freezing winter weather, feral cats’ ear tips can get frostbitten and break off? If you have strays or ferals in your neighborhood, you might give them some extra support by building inexpensive shelters for them.
Now for the surprise (at least it is a surprise if you did not come here through either Facebook or Twitter): I am having a commenthon! For every comment you leave until midnight tonight, Pacific Time (only one comment per kitty family, please), my human will donate 50 cents to Alley Cat Allies, up to $150! We love them because they do so much to help colonies and educate communities about feral cats! I thought this would be a great way to celebrate National Feral Cat Day… and my human agreed!