Oct 16th is Feral Cat Day! Feral cat overpopulation is a huge problem, and one that is proving difficult to overcome. There are, by some estimates, as many as 70 million feral cats in the US. A Flat Rock, NC veterinarian discusses feral cats below.
Feral, Strays, Or Domestic
There are no biological differences between stray, feral, and domestic kitties. The only difference is psychological. Strays and domestic cats have been socialized, and have been around people before. Some stray cats are extremely friendly, and will have no issues sprawling out on your porch and meowing at you for food. Feral kitties, on the other hand, are completely wild.
It’s worth pointing out that kitties can move between these categories. Many stray cats are former domestic pets that were lost or abandoned. Strays can go completely feral if left on their own long enough. Or, they can be adopted and become pets. One interesting thing about these kitty ‘statuses’? Only domestic cats hold their tails up when they walk. This may be Fluffy’s way of advertising that she’s ‘taken.’
One may think that the best way to help a feral cat is to adopt one. This isn’t exactly wrong: some ferals can, in time, settle into becoming pets. However, many of them don’t take well to captivity and, perhaps more to the point, may never adjust to using litterboxes. That doesn’t mean you can’t try: it just depends on the cat. Set realistic expectations, and ask your vet for advice. Fluffy may also do just fine living in your shed or barn, and providing pest control in exchange for food, shelter and, of course, veterinary care.
Helping Feral Cats
Adoption isn’t the only way to help feral kitties. In fact, one of the best things you can do for them is get your own feline buddy fixed. With so many homeless cats out there, it’s hard to justify bringing more kittens into the world … even if they are absolutely adorable. Supporting local animal rescues and TNR (Trap/Neuter/Release) programs is another great way to help. Providing food, water, and shelter is another option. Just be careful, as you could end up attracting rodents. You’ll also need to make sure that this is legal where you live. Ask your vet for more information.
If you have questions or concerns about feral cats? Contact us, your Flat Rock, NC animal clinic, today!