Are you interested in helping feral cats in your neighborhood by feeding them or sheltering them?
Perhaps there's a feral or homeless cat hanging around that you'd like to invite into your home?
Maybe this cat isn't so friendly, and you're unsure how to proceed?
Here's some advice from those who have done just that, and won over some furry hearts.
One of our readers, Mike Flore, asked for advice about helping a feral cat at his home. He left a comment on the home page, and to make it easy, I've re-posted it below.
He had already gotten some advice from one reader, and I have my own opinions. For example...
I'm concerned about spay/neuter and shots, the safety and health of his resident animals, and the long term future for the feral cat.
But I wanted to hear what others had to say and tap into the wisdom of the crowds. So, I reached out to readers and asked them to weigh in on the topic.
I've collected the best ideas, and put them here to help future readers so that together, we can help this cat and others.
Here's his story...
Summarizing some of the commentary...
The consensus among readers is that feral cats can be tamed and even loving, but some of them will take years to come around or never come around at all.
Others will becoming loving, but somewhat untrusting pets, and there are some that will eventually act like they were never feral at all.
In general, you have to let the cat set the pace, and respect whatever level of interaction the cat wants from you. This may mean leaving the cat outside (after a health check, spay/neuter and vaccinations) for years.
Here are a few points from various contributors on winning a cat over...
Sit outside and talk with them.
No loud noises and no fast movements as ferals are skittish and need quiet.
Go slowly, use food, and don't push them too fast. Let them come to you.
Not all feral cats will let you pet them or come inside your house. With some, it takes years before they warm up to you. One reader said it took 8 years for one of the ferals in her backyard before she could pet him.
Get them checked for diseases and don't let them near your other pets right away. Get them spayed/neutered and vaccinated.
If you get the cat to come inside your house, let them hide if they want and come out in their own time.
But were these cats who have come in from the cold, so to speak, truly feral to begin with? Perhaps they were once someone's pet, but were dumped or got left behind.
1) Decide what you want to do.
Even though it's impossible to predict what will happen, you should decide on what you want to do about this cat.
A) Leave the cat outside and provide food and water.
B) Leave the cat outside but provide some kind of shelter (garage, outdoor enclosure).
C) Bring the cat into your home on a part-time or full-time basis.
D) Get the cat to an adoptable state and have someone else adopt it.
Is the cat truly feral?
If the cat is truly feral, then A or B above may be the best options. You may also find that this cat is living in a feral colony.
If you want to bring the cat into your home or try to get someone else to adopt the cat, you're going to have to determine how people friendly the cat is, and how likely it is the cat can be integrated or adopted.
2) Protect your resident cats.
If you've got cats (or other pets) already, and you're going to bring the new cat near your existing cats, you want to make sure that...
A) Your cats do not feel displaced or threatened (there's a process for introducing a new cat), and
B) The new cat does not transfer any diseases to your cats
If the cat is truly feral, there may be a danger to your resident cats as there may be fighting. Any newcomer can put stress on your cat, but feral cats can be very unpredictable.
3) Protect the long term future of the feral cat.
Before coming into your home, the feral cat needs a health check, vaccinations, and must be spayed or neutered.
Check into local or regional (Trap Neuter Return) TNR programs to see if you can get the vet work done for free. If there isn't one, perhaps you could gather some people to start a program, starting with this cat.
If the cat is truly feral and cannot be integrated into a home, then it's usually best to return the cat to it's territory after it has been neutered and health checked.
4) Get help, involve others and raise awareness.
There are likely many cats in your area that need help, and there may be others helping ferals or strays.
Get others in the neighborhood involved, pool your resources and help each other. Get veterinarians involved (get them to volunteer their time and/or provide discounted vet care). Get teenagers and college students involved.
Use your local shelter, rescue group, or human society as a resource. Tap their personnel, volunteers, knowledge and experience.
Unfortunately, the majority of cats that are brought to shelters don't make it out. If you decide that a cat should be brought to a shelter, make sure it is a true no-kill shelter (and that they aren't fudging their numbers).
Below are ideas taken from comments made by members of our community
How are you helping feral or stray cats in your neighborhood?
Have you been able to tame one or more of these furry wild children?
If you have anything to add, please add your comment below.
Thanks in advance for your input and any advice you can offer!