Helping feral cats can be very rewarding. There are many options for you to be involved.
What can I do to help feral cats?
First, you may want to look for an existing feral cat group or individuals who are practicing TNR in your area to help you learn the ropes.
If there one or more feral cats in your area that does not have a caretaker, you can become their caretaker. Feral cat caretakers practice Trap-Neuter-Return, feed, provide shelter, monitor the cats for any problems, trap new cats who arrive. If the new cats are feral, they are TNRed; if they are kittens young enough to be socialized or tame lost or abandoned pet cats, they are evaluated for adoption.
What is Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR)?
Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) is a strategy for improving the lives of feral cats and reducing their numbers. At a minimum, feral cats who are TNRed are spayed or neutered so they can no longer reproduce, vaccinated against rabies, and surgically ear-tipped on one ear (ear-tipping is the universally-recognized sign of a cat who has been TNRed). Dedicated caretakers feed and provide shelter for TNRed cats, monitor the TNRed cats for sickness and remove new cats for TNR if feral or possible adoption if tame.
How does TNR solve common complaints associated with feral cats?
- When feral cats are trapped, neutered and returned to their territory, they no longer reproduce
- The cessation of sexual activity eliminates the noise associated with mating behavior and dramatically reduces fighting and the noise it causes
- Neutered feral cats also roam much less and become less visible and less prone to injury from cars
- Foul odors are greatly reduced as well because neutered male cats no longer produce testosterone which, when they are unaltered, mixes with their urine and causes the strong, pungent smell of their spraying
- When the colony is then monitored by a caretaker who removes and/or TNRs any newly arrived cats, the population stabilizes and gradually declines over time.