Is Feeding Feral Cats Unsociable?

People will have very different opinions on this. The division of opinion almost exactly follows the differences in opinion on cats in general. In other words if a person likes cats they will disagree strongly that feeding feral cats is unsociable. If a person dislikes cats they will strongly dislike the feeding of feral cats.

When a compassionate woman feeds feral cats it is usually for the purpose of facilitating a trap-neuter-return program. There are lots of individuals who like to do this. Or perhaps they feel through their compassion that they have to do it. A lot of people cannot walk away from suffering animals that require assistance. That must be a praiseworthy quality. It must go in favour of accepting the feeding of feral cats. We put them there in the first place. These caring individuals are taking on the burden of responsibility for them. There are few people who are willing to do that. They deserve praise for their social responsibility.

Ultimately the feeding of feral cats as part of a TNR program is good, socially responsible behavior. It must be as it tackles the ‘feral cat problem’ that people created. It is surprising that they are not given more support through local authority funding and back up.

Set against this is the weakness that TNR does not work when carried out on a small scale (or does it?). If TNR was shown to definitely work, to categorically reduce feral cats populations it would satisfy the people who dislike feral cats. They would have no reason to claim it was unsociable and a public health issue to feed feral cats as part of TNR, as in the long run their demands to get rid of feral cats would be met.

Here we have the problem. Does TNR work? We need a proper, independent, government funded study to assess the efficacy and consequences of trap-neuter-return programs. I am sure there are published studies but they are not conclusive and they certainly do not stop people complaining about people feeding and caring for feral cats.

These polarized views sometimes find their way into court. There was a high profile case in Beverely Hills some time ago. And recently there is Susan Mills, a ‘Henrico County woman’, who feeds feral cats. She appears to be doing this on her own property but that has little bearing on the matter as far as I can tell because the consequences of feeding feral cats on your own property goes beyond the boundaries of your property.

Feral cats are attracted to the area and therefore pass through public areas and other private properties. Neighbours complain of health problems. The trump card for the anti-cat brigade is rabies. If a feral cat has rabies and bites a person who dislikes cats in the neighbourhood where a person is feeding feral cats that is a major argument to stop feeding feral cats. Or is it?

Rabies is rarely carried by feral cats. It is bats who carry rabies apparently. And why should a person be bitten by a feral cat? What was that person doing? If a person is bitten by a feral cat it must be the fault of the person.

In the case of Susan Mills, she was found in a previous hearing to be in violation of ‘zoning laws’ (permitted use of areas of land designated by the local authorities). What Susan was doing was considered to be ‘not a customarily incidental practice to a home’s usual purpose’. The order against her had been drafted too widely and as a consequence was unworkable. It prevented anyone from providing any form of assistance to any animal in the zone. Was it just about the drafting of the order? I don’t think so. The problem goes deeper.

The root cause of the problem needs to be tackled – the ‘feral cat problem’. To fight over an individual case like this is almost pointless and non-productive. It is simply a symptom of the bigger problem that puts people into conflict on how to fix it.

Feeding feral cats is not unsociable. If it causes a legal nuisance it is because no one in high authority is taking on the underlying issues that give the United States feral cats in the first place. Feral cats were not meant to be part of the domestic-human relationship. They are a victim of human failure in respect of that relationship.

An after thought. In many counties feral cats are not considered a problem or at least there is less concern about them. They are accepted perhaps in part because they are useful in keeping down rodent populations. Israel is an example of an acceptance of feral cats and in many southern European countries the human-cat relationship is more relaxed, cats are semi-domesticated.

Might an adjustment in mentality in America assist the people in dealing with the feral cat? Where the human-cat relationship is more relaxed feral cats are better tolerated. Americans are far more likely to keep cats indoors all the time. This is a symptom of a desire to create an overly sterile environment; to control the environment to extreme. Perhaps there is no ‘feral cat problem’. Might it be a human problem?

Associated: World popularity of TNR

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Michael is retired! He retired at age 57 and at Aug 2018 is approaching 70. He worked in many jobs. The last job he did was as a solicitor practicing general law. He loves animals and is passionate about animal welfare. He also loves photography and nature. He hates animal abuse. He has owned and managed this site since 2007. There are around 13k pages so please use the custom search facility!


Is Feeding Feral Cats Unsociable? — 6 Comments

  1. I see how feeding them is an act of compassion. I would hope T/N/R and feeding would go hand in hand. Either way, you can’t have them all starving to death. Feeding is much better than them dying. Just wasn’t thinking it through.

  2. Note to Woodsman: I have published your comment because I like free speech and argument. Please leave it there on this subject. In the past you have overdone comments and hammered on unreasonably. Please respect other people. I have commented against your comments. Having read your comments, I feel you are the bad side of America. The ignorant, hunting, shooting killing side. It is people like you that make people in other countries dislike America. I know one thing for sure: I hate people like you. You are monstrous and ignorant. And you are full of hate and anger.


    FACT: Trap & Kill failed because cats cannot be trapped faster than they exponentially breed out of control.(Response from Michael (Admin) – please provide supporting research. You don’t have the right to simply make these statements without proper scientific research. TNR has been shown to work under certain situations and in certain places).

    FACT: Trap & Sterilize (TNR) is an even bigger abject failure because these man-made ecological disasters cannot be trapped faster than they exponentially breed out of control, and they also continue the cruelly annihilate all native wildlife (from the smallest of prey up to the top predators that are starved to death), and the cats continue to spread many deadly diseases that they carry today — FOR WHICH THERE ARE NO VACCINES AGAINST THEM. Many of which are even listed as bioterrorism agents. (Such as Tularemia and The Plague — Yes, people have already died from cat-transmitted plague in the USA. No fleas nor rats even required. The cats themselves carry and transmit the plague all on their own.) (Reply from Michael: this is an horrendously biased statement. It is completely incorrect. Using phrases such as “annihilate all native wildlife” is absurd. It is plain wrong and it shows you to be a cat hater and a cat shooter, judging by your name “Woodsman”.)

    FACT: THERE IS ABSOLUTELY *NOTHING* HUMANE ABOUT TNR. Every last TNR cat dies a cruel and heinous death; under the wheels of a car, from other cat and animal attacks, finding environmental poisons, starvation, dehydration, heat exhaustion, freezing to death, infections, incurable diseases, parasites, etc., etc. And if very very lucky being humanely shot to death or re-trapped and humanely drowned (the two most common methods often employed on all farms and ranches to protect their gestating livestock’s offspring and valuable native wildlife dying from cats’ Toxoplasmosis parasites). The only difference in destroying them immediately and humanely instead of trapping and sterilizing them first — then releasing them to the fate of an inhumane death — is that some money isn’t going into an HSUS or SPCA board-member’s pocket, veterinarian’s pocket, cat-food company CEO’s pocket, or a drug-company CEO’s pocket. And that’s the ONLY difference! (Response: Rubbish. Not all feral cat dies a horrible death. And you massively overstate the danger of toxoplasmosis in cats. You really are paranoid about cats aren’t you. Everything you say shouts, “I hate cats”. Why don’t you start hating the people who abandon cats and let them breed? You are horribly biased).

    FACT: Cats are a man-made (through selective breeding) invasive-species. And as such, are no less of an environmental disaster than any other caused by man. Cats are even worse than an oil-spill of continent-sized proportions. They not only kill off rare and endangered marine-mammals along all coastlines from run-off from the land carrying cats’ Toxoplasma gondii parasites, they destroy the complete food-chain in every ecosystem where cats are found today. From smallest of prey that is gutted and skinned alive for cats’ tortured play-toys, up to the top predators that are starved to death from cats destroying their ONLY food sources. (Precisely what cats caused on my own land not long ago.) (Response: Monstrous exaggerations and lies. Sorry Woodsman but you must make statements that are much more sensible and balanced.)

    FACT: Hunted To Extinction (or in this case, extirpation of all outdoor cats) is the ONLY method that is faster than a species like cats can exponentially out-breed and out-adapt to. Especially a man-made invasive-species like these cats that can breed 2-4X’s faster than any naturally occurring cat-species. (Response: If the feral cat was breeding as you say unchecked there would be a far more in the USA. It is impossible and inhumane to hunt all feral cats to extinction. And how many of these cats are outdoor cats in someone’s care? Are you going to shoot all the cats that are outdoors? You would be in jail in no time for criminal damage and animal cruelty etc. Your argument is the argument of a madman.)

    FACT: Alley Cat ALL-LIES of NYC have only managed to reduce the number of feral cats in their own city by 0.08% to 0.024% (and as the months go on that percentage becomes even more insignificant), thereby allowing more than 99.92% to 99.976% to continually and exponentially breed out of control. Here’s how Alley-Cat-ALL-LIES’ deceptive math works: If you TNR 4 cats and 3 die from being flattened by cars, this translates to a 75% reduction of feral-cats worldwide. Alley Cat ALL-LIES can’t even reduce the number of feral cats in their own city, yet they promote it as a worldwide solution. Then even bigger fools fall for it and promote it. (Response: You are accusing Alley Cat Allies of lying. You had better be correct otherwise that is a defamatory remark. You can get sued for that. And produce the document that supports what you say. You make comments that are unsupported.)

    FACT: When researching all the most “successful” TNR programs around the globe, JUST ONE OF THEM has managed to trap more than 0.4% of cats in their area. Oregon’s amazing 50,000 TNR’ed cats (the highest rate I found) is only 4.9% of all feral-cats in their state. Yet, by applying advanced population growth calculus on the unsterilized 95.1% of cats, they will have trapped only 0.35% of all feral-cats in their state sometime this year. <0.4% is a far cry from the required 80%-90% to be the least bit effective. (Response: Please provide the URL where I can read this. Without documentary support your biased comments mean nothing).

    FACT: Their mythical "vacuum effect" is a 100% LIE. A study done by the Texas A&M University proved that any perceived "vacuum" is just the simple case that CATS ATTRACT CATS. Get rid of them all and there's no cats there to attract more. I proved this myself by shooting and burying hundreds of them on my own land. ZERO cats replaced them FOR OVER 2 YEARS NOW. If you want more cats, keep even one of them around, more will find you. That university study also found that sterilized cats very poorly defend any territory. Non-sterilized cats, being more aggressive, take over the sterilized cats' resources (shelter & food if any). If there is any kind of "vacuum effect" at all, it is that sterilizing cats cause non-sterilized cats to restore the reproductive void. (Response: Provide the URL of the research paper that you mention. I need to read it myself).

    FACT: During all this investigation I have discovered something that is unfaltering without fail. Something that you can bet your very life on and win every last time. That being — IF A TNR CAT-HOARDER IS TALKING THEN THEY ARE LYING. 100% guaranteed! (Response: People who carry out TNR are not cat hoarders because they release the cats back. How can they be hoarders? You make an idiotic remark. And once again you make a potentially defamatory comment. If you want to be taken seriously you must make more reasonable and reasoned comments supported by hard fact in independent studies conducted by reliable people otherwise all you are doing is ranting and showing us your bias.)

  3. I think anything short of trap-neuter/spay-release is irresponsible. Feeding them after that can even be a problem, attracting undesirable wild animals. I think both sexes need to be fixed. This prevents the males from wandering off and impregnating the neighbors cat. It’s a lot of work and cost money, but the end will always be in site with T-N/S-R. Just feeding them is like giving drugs to an addict. Don’t change a thing and it may make it worse.

    • I see your argument. But feeding feral cats is a naturally compassionate thing to do for many people. It is difficult for some people to see animals suffering and do nothing to help. I would hope that nearly feeding of feral cats is part of TNR.

    • Feral colonies are often seen as “cats” and not a group of individual animals, people who feed feral cats who may not be part of a TNR group do so out of compassion for the cats, they see each cat as a seperate animal and not just a nuisance to be dealt with. Drug addicts become so by their own choice, feral cats become so through neglect, there is no comparison.

      • Yes, compassion is a great word. I sense the world has become less compassionate and more commercial. In a compassionate world people would not be considering criminalising feeding feral cats.

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