Every cat has their day, and today is National Feral Cat Day. This day is observed annually on October 16, and was organized by Alley Cat Allies. The purpose of this day to help humans understand that feral cats are happy and healthy with their outdoor lives. It also serves as a reminder that trapping and neutering or spaying before returning the cats to their outdoor lives actually improves the cats’ lives.
Feral cats are accustomed to outdoor living. They aren’t stray cats and don’t belong indoors. If you come upon a feral cat, do not take him/her to your local shelter. According to Alley Cat Allies: “Feral cats’ needs are not met by the current animal control and shelter system where animals who are not adoptable are euthanized. Feral cats live full, healthy lives outdoors—but are most often euthanized in shelters. Even no-kill shelters can’t place feral cats in homes”.
How can you tell if a cat is feral or is someone’s lost pet? The biggest clue comes with the socialization of the cat. If you see a cat in the outdoors who approaches you, is most likely alone, walks with tail up (a sign of friendliness), makes eye contact and meows, that is most likely a stray or lost cat. Feral cats avoid people, usually belong to a colony and don’t make eye contact or meow.
One effective method to help feral cats is Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR). Cats are humanely trapped, taken to a vet for spay/neuter and then returned to their home in the outdoors.
Ear tipping is a universal sign that signifies feral cats have been spayed or neutered, and is not comparable to ear cropping in dogs for cosmetic reasons. It is a safe procedure, and is performed when the cat is already under general anesthesia for the spay or neuter. Ear tipping gives immediate visual verification the cat has been altered. If you trap a cat with an ear tip, be sure to release him/her immediately. Julie Levy, DVM, PhD, ACVIM says in her article Cat Wrangling 101 “The worst possible thing is to perform unnecessary surgery on a cat that is already spayed or neutered because it was not marked with a universally recognized symbol, and this I have done.”
SCRAM is a resource to help feral cats in Minnesota. If you’re in the Denver, Colorado area and would like to find out how to help feral cats, contact Rocky Mountain Alley Cat Alliance .
To learn more, watch this short video about feral cats. To find out more about feral cats and how you can help, visit Alley Cat Allies.
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