Trap, Neuter, Release:
Helping Feral Cats
The most practical and humane solution to a large feral cat population is to trap, neuter, release (TNR) the cats. Here are the answers to some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) to help you get started.
Why can't I just feed them--why trap, neuter, release?
Unsterilized feral cats can produce up to 3-4 litters of kittens per year! In addition to bothering the local birds, other wildlife, and neighbors, this can be deadly to the cats themselves. Like any animal that falls prey to overpopulation, large populations of feral cats are susceptible to starvation, disease, and parasites. They can also be mauled by dogs or hit by cars. Sadly, they can also spread disease, such as Felike Leukemia, which is spread via saliva, to pet cats that are let outdoors.And relocating them won't work--they may run away from unfamiliar environments, or may be unable to find enough food or safe shelter to survive.
How do I catch a feral cat?
Very carefully! Plan well, and make the necessary preparations to protect both yourself and the feral cats. The Feral Cat Caretakers Coalition of Los Angeles, California provides detailed instructions on how to properly catch feral cats. Check them out here. Alternatively, enlist the help of experts! Check out #6 for local feral cat resources.
Will the cats be warm enough to survive the Minnesota winter?
There is no doubt that Minnesota winters provide extremely challenging environments for cats to survive. That's why the experts recommend that TNR volunteers help their chances by buying or constructing feral cat housing. The Urban Cat League of New York provides fantastic ideas for providing winter housing for cats, as well as some for sale. Check them out here.
How do I make sure the cats have enough to eat and drink?
I'm a paragraph. Click here to add your own text and Forgotten Felines of Sonoma County, California, recommends one cup of dry cat food per feral cat, per day. Dry food can remain out all day without being spoiled and offers less chance of attracting other wildlife and insects. Morning or daytime feeding, rather than night feeding is recommended. Fresh water should be provided at every feeding. For more information, check out the Forgotten Felines website.
Do feral cats make good pets?
Some feral cats may have originally been pets, but were "set free" or ended up on their own and have since become frightened of people. Others were born wild and have highly developed survival instincts and are extremely wary of people. The issue of whether a feral cat can become a socialized pet is highly controversial, and depends on the individual cat. Some may unable to overcome their fear and lack of socialization to enjoy sustained confinement as pets. This does not mean they are "mean cats;" it simply means they are wild.
Who can help me get started?
Animal Ark in Hastings, Minnesota, provides free mobile services to help people to humanely trap feral cats, surgically sterilize them, and re-release them on their property. For more information, go to www.animalark.org. If you live in Southwest Minnesota, Stevens Community Humane Society in Morris will help residents to trap, spay/neuter, and release feral cats if the residents agree to provide ongoing feeding for the cats. More information is available www.stevenscommunityhumanesociety.org.