Maybe you have come across a cat while walking through town, only to have it bolt when you get too close. Most likely you have seen a feral cat. Feral cats are the wild offspring of domestic cats that are primarily the result of pet owners’ abandonment, failure to confine or failure to spay or neuter their animals allowing them to breed uncontrolled. Feral cats live in both the city and in rural areas. Colonies are found anywhere there is a source of food, water and shelter. You will find these feral often stressed and starving cats in back allies, dumps, parks, ravines, and on university grounds. Feral cats are not a natural part of the local eco-system. They are not wildlife and contrary to popular belief do not have the necessary skills to survive. Most feral cats only live 2-3 years without assistance. Feral cats have become an important issue in many towns and cities across Canada as they reproduce rapidly and can have up to three litters a year. Collecting cats and euthanizing them does not deal with the issue of kittens two or three times a year. The kittens will keep coming if the ‘ready to breed’ cats are not spayed/neutered in time – around the age of 5 months.
Not All Cats Are Feral
Not all homeless cats are feral. Many have been abandoned after living life indoors – for many reasons (such as moving) their owners have ‘dumped’ them thinking they’ll be just fine outside. After all, cats want to be outside, don’t they? The answer to that is, no. These cats are now scared, confused, stressed and because of this are usually afraid to approach anyone. These cats can be young or old but if they are not fixed they will breed. The first litter a stray mother cat has will become feral very quickly.
Should You Feed Feral Cats?
Yes. If you regularly feed “stray” or “feral” cats then you are a Cat Caregiver. You are THE most important part of helping control and improve the lives of feral cats.
What We Are Doing – Humane Solutions
New Hope Animal Rescue has initiated a more humane, long term solution to the local feral cat issue. Our 50/50 Feral Cat Program focuses on the Trap – Neuter – Return – Maintain model. This cat welfare based model focuses on stopping the cycle of kittens and maintaining the baseline health of a feral cat colony to prevent disease. This program is a partnership with you. We ask that you raise half of the cost to spay/neuter and New Hope Animal Rescue will cover the other half. Once you live trap the cat you then bring it to us at a per-determined time. We spay/neuter the animal, give it basic vaccinations and give it an identifying mark so we know it has been to us before. You then return the animal back to its place of familiarity.
Dealing with the issue of abandoned and feral cats is a slow and steady process. To help, know that even a small step is a step in the right direction.
For protecting cats from our harsh winters please visit the website of Toronto Feral Cat Project where you will find a wealth of information.