With the “kitten season” comes the prospect of unwanted cats, which are then dumped. This inevitably leads to stray and, in this case, feral cat colonies in the High Wycombe area, which themselves grow in number. We are told by the Daily Mail that there are 200 feral cats in six colonies that area.
The South Bucks branch of the RSPCA was – and still might be – looking for volunteers to trap the kittens and cats for neutering and spaying at the local RSPCA facility (On 7th August, 9 days ago, the RSPCA were still looking for volunteers). Perhaps they use local vets, I am not sure.
It seems that volunteers are asked to take trapped cats to a local vet for a health check and sterilising. I don’t know how that works in terms of cost. I suspect the RSCPA have an arrangement with local vets so that they are billed direct.
What is nice is that the focus is only on classic TNR – trap-neuter-return – a proven way of managing feral cats humanely. No other way of managing feral cats is mentioned, which I like a lot. Quite a lot of people prefer killing feral cats to TNR. They see TNR as a failure. When done properly there is a lot of evidence that shows is that it is successful
If feral kittens are sterilised early it nips in the bud the “feral cat problem” as it prevents the colony expanding. Trapped and sterilised feral kittens can be socialised fairly easily as I understand it. These cats can be rehomed by the RSPCA. Do the RSPCA work with Cats Protection who could foster and socialise feral kittens and then find a new home for them? I am not sure.
Some of the High Wycombe feral cats are located in industrial areas. Unused industrial facilities are often chosen by feral cats as a suitable territory as they are undisturbed but not far from sources of food – human waste. When the Olympic Park was built feral cats were discovered in abandoned and run-down industrial areas. They were all successfully trapped by Celia Hammond’s charity. She is the former well known model who was photographed by David Bailey.
I confess that I am surprised by this story because I never see feral cats in London. Perhaps they are confined to disused industrial complexes and therefore out of sight.
My personal thoughts are that there are less feral cats in the UK that estimated. You can never count the number of feral cats and estimates are frequently wild. Celia Hammond’s charity says that “There are estimated to be 2 million strays on U.K streets”. I don’t believe the figure although in proportion to the number of domestic cats it is much lower than the USA. In the US it is believed that there are the same number of domestic and feral cats (about 80m each). In the UK there are about 10 million (2012) domestic cats1.
Clearly there are cat owners in the UK who fail to ensure that their cat is either spayed or neutered. That is probably a cat owner’s first responsibility otherwise the owner is liable to have an expanding and unmanageable cat family, which can easily lead to cat abandonment.