Keeping cats safe from feral cats – Part 1

As a long time cat owner I was both delighted and worried when I noticed a family of /semi-feral cats living in the backyard of my new house this summer. At first it was a mother, father and three kittens but it was obvious the mother cat was pregnant again and within a few weeks there were 6 new kittens. My neighbourhood has a large number of stray/feral cats so I wanted to do my best to make sure these cats and kittens were taken care. I’ve put together a list of some of the most helpful tips on what to do if you find yourself in a similar situation.

First, the difference between stray and feral cats. Stray cats are cats that have had a home at one time and have either been lost or abandoned. They are usually comfortable around humans – though if they’ve been stray for a long while they may still be scared. Feral cats are truly wild and are usually born from cats that have had little or no human contact. Semi-feral cats may have had some contact with humans but have been on their own long enough that they act wild. Stray cats, and semi-feral cats can often become accustomed to humans again and can make wonderful pets. Feral cats likely cannot. While they may never become pets, feral cats can successfully live in colonies especially if they are provided with a steady source of food and fresh water.

What to do if you suspect you have a stray or feral cat in your backyard.

1. Check with your neighbours to make sure the cat doesn’t belong to one of them. You can place ads on free classified services such as craigslist if your city has one, and you can call your local humane society, veterinary clinics and pet shops and provide them with a picture and description of the cat.

2. Ideally, the next step is to make sure that the cat is spayed or neutered. Most humane societies or cat rescues have trap and release programs for feral or semi-feral cats – if you trap the animal they will spay or neuter it, vaccinate it and re-release it. For a cat that is too wild to become a pet this is by far the best option. It will allow the cat to live as full a life as possible in its colony without adding to the problem of over-population.

3. If the cat is tame and friendly it can likely be re-homed. Again, this is the best option for stray cats. While cats can live in outdoor colonies their life span is greatly shortened, so if there is a chance a stray cat can become a pet it is worth pursuing.

4. For cats that are already tame and friendly

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