Feral or Stray?

December 15, 2014

You notice a cat roaming your neighborhood, and you don’t recognize him as a neighbor’s pet. What should you do? That depends on whether he is a feral cat or a stray pet. Feral cats should be treated differently than strays, for both your safety and the cats’ well-being. Put simply, a feral cat was born outdoors and has never been socialized as a pet cat. Feral cats view humans just as other “wild animals” do — with caution, fear, and sometimes aggression. Although you may be able to entice a feral cat to your porch with food, and it may choose to stay in your yard or in a provided outdoor shelter, it generally does not want to be petted or picked up, and will likely be fearful if it is ever brought indoors. If caught and brought in to a shelter, adult feral cats will be fearful and possibly aggressive, and cannot be socialized for adoption. The longer they remain in the shelter, the more stressed they become, which can make them susceptible to common shelter germs such as upper respiratory infections. If you notice one or more feral cats living near your home, you can best help them by participating in a Trap/Neuter/Return spay/neuter program. In a TNR program, feral cats are fixed and vaccinated, ear-tipped (the tip of one ear is snipped to identify them as fixed), then returned to their original outdoor habitat to live out their lives (very young kittens are fostered, socialized, and adopted out to loving homes). This is the healthiest and most humane thing we can do for feral cats – once fixed, they have fewer reproductive illnesses, fewer injuries from territorial fighting, reduced transmission of feline diseases, and of course no more unwanted litters of kittens born out in the elements. To participate in a TNR program, contact Kitsap Humane Society’s Community Cats program via email at communitycats@kitsap-humane.org, or by phone at (360)536-2668. You can report the location of a suspected group of feral cats; borrow humane traps; get TNR advice, instructions, and/or assistance; and get low-cost ($25) spay/neuter surgeries (free spay/neuter in Port Orchard 98366) and FREE rabies shots for ferals. The cats and your neighbors will thank you!