This past Saturday, October 16th was National Feral Cat Day. The purpose of this annual event is to help people understand that feral cats are healthy and happy outdoors and that Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) improves cats’ lives and the neighborhood where they live.
National Feral Cat Day was launched by Alley Cat Allies in 1990 to raise awareness about the plight of stray and feral cats. Alley Cat Allies are the national advocates for stray and feral cats and are the foremost authority on TNR.
Truly “feral” cats have been born in the wild and have never lived with humans in a home. Sadly, many cats that are labeled “feral” are actually cats that have been abandoned or became lost from their homes. These stray cats frequently find their way to a feral cat community and begin to lose their socialization skills. This leads to some cases where cats who have been trapped are either friendly enough or young enough to be adopted rather than returned to the cat community from where they came.
Feral Cat Facts
- Feral cats are members of the domestic cat species and have been living alongside people for 10,000 years. They are not a new phenomenon.
- Feral cats are healthy and live outdoors in family groups called colonies or cat communities. They can thrive in every landscape, from the most urban to the most rural.
- The majority of feral cat colonies are cared for by volunteer cat caregivers.
- Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) is a program that helps feral cats and the neighborhood where they live. The cats are humanely trapped, spayed or neutered, vaccinated, eartipped and then returned to their outdoor home. Neutering ends the breeding cycle and makes feral cats better neighbors.
- Since most feral cats are not socialized to people, they are not adoptable. Thus, when they are taken to a pound or shelter they are almost always killed.
TNR is a program in which stray and feral cats already living outdoors in cities, towns, and rural areas are humanely trapped and brought to a veterinarian to be evaluated, spayed or neutered and vaccinated. Cats that have undergone the procedure are eartipped while under anesthesia to mark them as having been spayed or neutered. In eartipping a small portion of the left ear is painlessly removed.
- TNR stabilizes the feral cat population at manageable levels.
- TNR eliminates annoying behaviors associated with mating.
- TNR is humane to the animals and fosters compassion in the neighborhoods.
- TNR is more effective and less costly than repeated attempts at extermination: costs for repeatedly trapping and killing feral colonies are far higher than promoting stable, non-breeding colonies in the same location. Vacated areas are soon filled by other cats, who start the breeding process over again.
San Diego’s Feral Cat Coalition (FCC) has one of the best feral cat programs in the country and is frequently cited for it successful program. Since they began the program in 1992, they have spayed or neutered over 2,000 cats per year and have contributed significantly to the decrease of almost 50% in the number of cats impounded and killed.
For more information about feral cats in San Diego, if you need assistance with a cat community or would like to help out, please contact the Feral Cat Coalition by calling them at 619-758-9194. You can also get information from the Feral Cat website.
P.S. Read Stacey Mantle’s account of her TNR experience, in her article, “National Feral Cat Day”.