UK: High Wycombe Feral Cat Colonies

Feral cat UK

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.

Feral Cats Visitors’ Stories

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.

Ref: (1)

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UK: High Wycombe Feral Cat Colonies — 17 Comments

  1. Interesting – thank goodness it doesn’t cross the minds of people in England to just kill them. That would be immoral. If only we could neuter the people who aren’t responsible and don’t neuter their cats.

    I’m the same as Marion in a very small way by the way – I go and check on litters of kittens born to 2 cats belonging to a lady who refuses to neuter them – and just like Marion, I choose to be nice so I can continue to have welcome access to make sure they are ok and everything.

    Sadly Red/Molly’s mother just had 2 kittens yesterday. I am very happy it’s only 2 and not the usual 5 or 6. They are very robust and Twinky (mama) is very relaxed and not depleted as such – yet.

    People are the problem. People must fix the problem. Not by killing. I’m happy the UK has a humane approach on average.

  2. Great post, Michael. I love that folks in the UK are on the same page concerning TNR and don’t even consider massive kills.
    There was a very big mistake made many years ago – I WAS DROPPED ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THE GLOBE!

    • Thanks Dee, you are kind. There was no discussion or dispute about how to deal with these feral cats. TNR was the only option. Nice that. No complaints. No rows about feral cats spreading disease or killing wildlife. No breaches of ordinances. No one vilified or criticised for feeding feral cats. Just straightforward TNR and get on with it. The simple life.

  3. Babz and I have done TNR when we were CP feral officers when younger and fitter, it’s time consuming but so worth it.
    I think there are less ferals thanks mostly to CP, not only for TNR but for encouraging and paying for the neutering of cats for people on a low income.
    If only similar could be done in the USA instead of all the killing!

  4. I think TNR is the only way however (God I hate myself for being so negative just lately) there seems to be a massive increase in people breeding moggies for money 🙁 FB selling pages, Gumtree, Preloved are just a few 🙁 there ought to be tighter controls but what could be imposed and how would it be policed? I’ve often wondered how the RSPCA police a ban on keeping animals for x amount of years. They can’t really can they? Is there a way? So really isn’t it just an empty sentence?

    My ex-boss who lives in an area where a lot of cat are dumped. Because of this he now has 6. He is a wonderful man. He tries to do whatever he can and has taken in a number of pregnant cats and found good homes for their babies. He called me the other day to see if I could help find homes for his latest litter he also told me that a man came to his house who had heard he had kittens and said he wanted a male and female. My ex boss said ‘you’re not going to breed from them are you?’ his reply was ‘yes I am’ He shut the door in is face. Believe me its rife 🙁 peoples exploitation of animals yet again…… I was with a buy/sell group on FB until I saw a post ‘Kittens £15 each or 2 for £20’ I very quickly let the person know they were damn well out of order I said these are living feeling creatures not bloody buy one, get one free on bags of spuds from Tesco! Needless to say I’n no longer a memeber of the group. I stick with a buy/sell one who says no to the sale of animals and yet there of those that still try it on I had a go at one on there the other day grrrrr……..

    There ought to be set rules on these sites imposed by a higher authority theres just no acceptance of responsibilty and thats why sadly we will always have a feral cat problem.

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