What is the number one killer of cats in America? Nope, it’s not cancer or chronic renal failure. It’s being killed in animal shelters. And what type of cat is almost guaranteed to receive such a death sentence? Maybe you already know the answer: feral cats. Because adult ferals are not acclimated to humans and cannot be adopted out, once they wind up in an animal control facility, there is little more that can be done with them.
National Feral Cat Day is this Sunday, October 16, but I am posting about it now in hopes that some of you human readers will go out and do something to help feral cats this weekend. It is only Monday, and I know how important “schedules” are to you all, so I wanted to give you enough time to plan. If you are in the U.S. or Canada, check out the official National Feral Cat Day website to see if there is an event near you that you can attend or help out at. If there isn’t, you can still help by learning important facts, and spreading the word:
- Feral cats, for the most part, cannot be tamed. The exception are feral kittens: if they are captured at a very young age — for example, along with a mother, who is nursing them as newborns — they can be raised to be human friendly.
- The primary wild diet of feral cats consists of small mammals such as mice. While they do catch birds, this is a secondary food source, and human destruction of bird habitat is the main reason for declining bird populations. There are a lot of bird groups that are trying to say different, but they are twisting facts and using misinformation to promote their agenda.
- Destroying a colony of feral cats creates a vacuum that will eventually be filled with more intact (unneutered and unspayed) cats. The most effective, and proven, way to control feral cat population is by TNR — Trap, Neuter and Return — in a managed group.
Consider studying the facts and writing a letter to your local editor, or putting up a poster at your vet clinic to help people better understand and help feral cats. Like any cat, ferals are impossible to control by force. Understanding them and working with their nature is a far more effective and compassionate method.