Myths and Controversies
Feral Cat Caregivers are “Crazy Cat People” who go overboard on cats.
Many people cannot understand why anyone would want to provide care for homeless Feral Cats and often label them as “crazy cat people.” Feral Cat caregivers are compassionate, kind, and generous human beings who often use their own funds to pay for food and medical expenses for animals in need . They choose to SEE the “abandoned and forgotten” of the cat world and not IGNORE them. Their charitable contribution to the well-being of Feral Cats (the less fortunate of the cat world) gives purpose and provides other therapeutic benefits to the caregivers’ lives.
Feral Cat Caregivers are the ones who are “establishing” new colonies and are contributing to the problem of overpopulation.
This could not be further from the truth. Feral Cats establish their own territories based on a food source and shelter. Therefore, Feral Cats were there prior to the caregivers. Feral Cat caregivers are to be commended for the amazing and unselfish work they do. Beyond providing a consistent source of food and water, they also have entire colonies of Feral Cats sterilized through the process of Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR). Additionally, they vaccinate cats against diseases and provide other necessary medical care. This not only reduces populations, but also improves the health of the cats. It also provides many benefits to the public. Cats who are sterilized no longer wander in search of mates, and nuisance behaviors such as spraying and fighting decline. Cats are healthy and risks to the public are minimal.
Feral Cats can fend for themselves, and it is best to leave them alone.
We have all seen Feral Cats living outside, providing for themselves. It APPEARS they are doing fine. However, the life they lead is difficult, and they face harsh circumstances daily just to survive. Feral Cats left to fend for themselves are often malnourished and starving. They rummage through dumpsters and garbage cans just to find food; these poor cats are often sickly. Additionally, females can become pregnant at 4 months of age and can have several litters of kittens a year. Females already struggling to survive must nurse kittens undergoing additional stress, and some kittens die. Unneutered males roam in search of mates and often incur injury and transmit disease defending their territories. Feral Cats need shelter from the elements. Many Feral Cats find shelter underneath buildings, cars and porches, or even in underground pipes and tunnels. In short, without a RELIABLE source of food and shelter, Feral Cats STRUGGLE to survive and face MANY challenges. Many Feral Cats die within the first few years. Allowing Feral Cats to fend for themselves is irresponsible and inhumane. At the very least, human intervention is needed to provide Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) services to Feral Cats. This reduces Feral Cat populations and improves the quality of life for cats, birds, wildlife, and people. Caregivers are important because they provide daily care to Feral Cats, including food, water, shelter, vaccinations and medical care as needed. The result is healthy cats which minimizes public health risks. Beyond health-related issues, caring for Feral Cats reduces involvement and intervention from animal shelters. Many animal shelters support the efforts of Feral Cat caregivers. Well-managed Feral Cat colonies save lives and prevent suffering. Additionally, resources otherwise used for Feral Cats, including money, can be used towards adoptable animals.
For the most part, Feral Cats cannot be socialized. They are most content living outside on their own terms and have done so for many years. Just because they are homeless does not mean they do not have the right to live. Feral Cats that are part of well-managed colonies lead lives comparable to indoor pets: some Feral Cats live for 10 or more years. Managed colonies are provided daily food, water, shelter, vaccinations, and medical care as needed, as well as population control through Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR). Therefore, they do not experience any worse medical conditions than do pet cats. Beyond that, natural immunity to a variety of illnesses is developed by most feral kittens. Although they are not living among humans, they share close “family ties” not only with their fellow colony members, but often with the caregivers who provide for them. Some caregivers eventually can pet or pick up these Feral Cats. Additionally, Feral Cats that are part of well-managed colonies are often mistaken for pet cats because of their healthy appearance.
I am concerned about Feral Cats living outside. Wouldn’t they be better off if I took them into my home or to the shelter?
PLEASE DO NOT TAKE FERAL CATS TO SHELTERS: YOU ARE DELIVERING THEM A DEATH SENTENCE.
Feral Cats have lived outside for many years. They are unsocialized and are afraid of humans. Despite the challenges, Feral Cats live and thrive in every landscape and climate. Bringing them inside is a great injustice because they do not want to live inside and will typically hide. Shelters deal with adoptable animals, and Feral Cats are not adoptable. Feral Cats taken to shelters are usually euthanized. Even No-Kill Shelters cannot place Feral Cats into homes. The best solution is to provide care for Feral Cats where they live.
Humans are the biggest predators of wildlife. Destruction of habitat, death from vehicles, chemical pollution, pesticides, drought, and environmental factors are the greatest contributors to the depletion of wildlife; not Feral Cats. In particular, Feral Cats which are part of well-managed colonies have very little need to hunt because they have a reliable food source.
Feral Cats are vicious and will hurt you.
Feral Cats may act “wild” because they have had very little or no human contact. They are frightened of humans and prefer not to be around them. Most remain quiet and hide from view when unfamiliar people approach. Ones who are trapped or cornered may seem vicious and may hurt you. They are acting this way because they feel threatened and will fight for their lives. The best way to deal with a Feral Cat that is acting “wild” is to leave it alone. These cats will not hurt you unless it is to protect themselves or their offspring. They have absolutely no interest in human contact if they are truly feral.