The plight of the feral cat is a growing issue. Public education is necessary to prevent the growing population of unwanted cats. We must remember that we do not have a cat problem we have a people problem. Cats are doing whatever cats do when they are not supervised and cats need to be in homes and have a quality family life. If they can not be in a home we must build feral cat shelters.
Easing The Feral Cat’s Life
The term feral cat includes cats that have no permanent address. This means they have been probably born outside with little or no human contact. Included in this group can be the runaway cat from someone’s home, the cat with free-roaming privileges, and the cats that have been dumped out the door from a home.
A cat with no home has a hard life. Finding food and shelter, evading predators either wild animals or dangerous people. Tomcats fight for territory and dominance. This brings injury and disease. Female cats are constantly at risk of producing kittens.
On average a female cat can have 1 to 8 kittens per litter and 2 to 3 litters per year. During her lifetime, one female cat could have more than 100 kittens. A single pair of breeding cats and their offspring can produce as many as 420,000 kittens in just 7 years.
The life span of a feral cat according to Wikipedia is on average about two years and fifty percent of feral kittens die within the first year of life.
Let’s look at easing the feral cat’s life
Food And Shelter
Let’s start with providing shelter for your local feral cat or cats. Putting up a shelter can be reasonably easy. A nicely stacked set of square straw bales makes a great shelter. Be sure to make a roof and this will provide a good cold-weather shelter. Use loose straw on the floor and change it as required if it gets wet or dirty.
It is possible to build a shelter out of tires. This is accomplished by bolting two tires on top of each other and cutting a hole in the side for a door and a plywood roof. It is not a good cold weather shelter without a heating pad.
I have seen cat shelter made from large coolers with a door cut in the side. The hole is taped to prevent sharp edges and when put in an area out of the wind will provide protection from the elements. People put blankets or straw for a floor. This will require cleaning as required. Heating pads can be used if possible. This will help keep whatever food and water from freezing.
Here is a YouTube video to help get started.
With a little imagination with some stackable containers and some insulation, a person can build several cat shelters. The next requirement is food. Dry food is nice as it does not freeze, while the water you put out will need to be checked and replaced regularly. Wet food is a good solution if you have a schedule and can monitor the cats to avoid waste. A very hungry cat will chew frozen food, a regularly fed cat might leave it. It is best to use some sort of disposable container for your stray cat feeding. The cat food sample below is an example. Buy what you can afford and personally approve.
I was feeding stray cats and I was finding that skunks were coming around. I quit for a while and only fed cats when I saw then. The skunks quit coming around. They are kind of nice if nobody gets squirted. It is a smell you will never forget. I don’t shoot animals, but if you shoot a skunk in your yard your workload has increased significantly as you now have to remove a very smelly body
Here are some examples of feral cat shelters from Amazon.
TNR Is The Solution
TNR is Trap, Neuter Release
The fact that feral cats are so abundant is not a situation that came about overnight. It happened when the human element allowed this to happen gradually and when people started complaining now there needs to be a quick solution. The corrective actions that bring a quick solution are cruel and inhuman. There is no quick solution.
The Feral Colony
This is where the best corrective action can take place. If an individual or a group of volunteers watch over a feral cat colony the opportunity to feed and shelter these cats is rewarding. The next step is to capture the cats and begin a program of spay and neutering with vaccinations as required. I have read that where an established colony will keep out extra cats.
When I have spayed and neutered my cats they require at least two weeks of isolated monitoring to watch for infections or other complications. Then they can be released back to the colony. Some feral cats can be socialized and brought into the house. Please follow this link to the story of my feral tomcat Norbu to read about his journey from the wildest cat ever to a big gentle house cat. Not every cat can be tamed but it depends on the cat and someone’s perseverance.
The feral colony should have a dedicated person or group of people to monitor, feed, medicate, protect and shelter as required. It takes resources to do this and lots of people self-finance. As this Christmas season comes around it would be nice if feral cat colonies would receive donations.
Being a feral cat is not their fault! Feral and stray cats are the result of people who don’t care, and as a result, they can only be helped by people who care. It is also necessary to educate all animal owners that dumping, releasing or not spaying and neutering cats is not acceptable. These are examples of animal cruelty that must be stopped.
Any outside cat is at risk from being hit by a car, being stolen, fights with other cats, parasites, disease, human cruelty, predator animals, and poisonings. This is why I do not allow my cats to free-range. It would be nice if every cat had a home so we cat lovers and rescuers keep working to ease the plight of the feral cat.
All cats are beautiful and every life is important. Cats are elegant, magnificent creatures. We must understand that cats do not survive well on their own. When my Lacy escaped for two weeks she lost weight and hurt her paws. Her outside experience produced a profound personality change and she does not go near the door anymore.
When my Roxanne got out of the house last winter she got frostbite on her ears in 15 minutes. Her ears recovered nicely, but it illustrates how the environment is hard on cats.
That’s my story for today Please follow this link to my Cat Care Products page for great stuff for your cat. If you have any questions or comments please do so below.
How Long Is Cat Care? It’s Forever
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