This coming Thursday, October 16, is National Feral Cat Day. This day was launched by Alley Cat Allies in 2001 to raise awareness about feral cats, promote Trap-Neuter-Return, and recognize the millions of compassionate Americans who care for them.
The theme for this year’s National Feral Cat Day is “TNR: From the Alley…to Main Street.” Trap-Neuter-Return—a humane approach to managing and caring for feral cats, and it’s the only effective method of stabilizing feral cat colonies. In the last decade, the number of local governments with official policies endorsing TNR for feral cats has increased tenfold, with hundreds of cities and towns successfully carrying out TNR.
What is a feral cat?
A feral cat is not the same as a stray. Feral cats are descendants of a domesticated cat that have returned to the wild. Feral cats are born in the wild, as opposed to stray cats, who are usually cats who have been lost or abandoned.
Can a feral cat become a pet cat?
Feral kittens have a better chance at being domesticated than adult feral cats. Taming a feral kitten takes a lot of patience, and the process can take several months. It becomes more challenging, and often impossible, with older cats. Even though most cat lovers feel that every cat should want to be a house cat, some ferals simply love their freedom too much to give up a life wrought with danger and often starvation, even in exchange for safety and a permanent home.
Caring for feral cats
Dedicated and caring individuals around the country do what they can to feed and provide basic health care for these cats. Whether it’s a group of neighbors who band together to get a neighborhood feral spayed and keep a collective eye on her well-being, or whether it’s the elderly woman who barely has enough money to feed herself, but always manages to scrape together enough for her “outside cats,” feral cats who have these advocates in their corner are the fortunate ones. Too many others are persecuted as a menace, and an increasing number of municipalities are passing ordinances to ban these helpless creatures.
Facts and statistics about feral cats*
- Cats have lived outdoors for more than 10,000 years.
- In the last decade, the number of local governments with official policies endorsing Trap-Neuter-Return has increased TENFOLD.
- More than 70% of all cats who enter shelters are killed there, including virtually 100% of feral cats.
- Feral cats can have the same lifespan as pet cats.
- The nation’s animal shelter system is the #1 cause of death for cats.
- More than 40% of Americans have fed an outdoor cat.
- More than 80% of Americans think it’s more humane to leave a stray cat where he is to live out his life than to have him caught and killed.
How can you help feral cats?
Educate yourself on the plight of feral cats. Vox Felina, a website dedicated to providing critical analysis of claims made in the name of science by those opposed to feral/free-roaming cats and trap-neuter-return (TNR), is an excellent resource for learning more about the feral cat problem. Alley Cat Allie’s website provides a wealth of information on all aspects of helping feral cats.
Jackson Galaxy is a big champion of feral cats, and recorded this PSA to spread the word about how to help:
*Statistics courtesy of Alley Cat Allies
Conscious Cat Sunday will return next week.