Feral Cats - photo by Feral Indeed!
There is a thought that Relocating Feral Cats is one viable way of managing feral cat colonies. It is an alternative or an addition to the classic trap neuter return model. But does it work? The answer would seem to be Yes and No. Simple relocation to remove feral cats from an area without meticulous planning and care will not work. This is because feral cats are attached to a certain area. They know the ropes, the methods to survive there. Removing them is against their interests. And it only takes missing a male and female for the colony to reform through breeding and I presume other new cats (perhaps some of the removed cats if not relocated too far away) will simply move into the vacated area.
This replicates the problems with killing feral cats to eradicate them. It is both cruel and ineffective as it creates a temporary vacuum into which new feral cats enter. Accordingly relocating feral cats will not necessarily remove feral cats from the area, the objective of the exercise. However, if there is a threat to the lives of feral cats at a certain location and removing the cats is as a result necessary then relocation may be the only option.
The Olympic site in London was populated with quite a large number of feral cats as substantial parts of it were derelict. CHAT (Celia Hammond Animal Trust UK) rescued cats from this site but rather than relocating they cared for them and homed them. This would seem to be the better option. If relocation is decided upon for practical reasons, it has to be done following the kind of procedures set out on the Ally Cat Allies website. In outline these are:
- A new location has been established that is suitable
- The cats are trapped
- The cats are given veterinary care
- The cats are taken to the new location
- The cats are introduced and orientated to their new environment
- There is follow-up contact
My thought is that relocating feral cats must be difficult in respect of finding a suitable alternative location. I presume the group is kept together but perhaps not. If not it is simply a homing exercise rather than relocation. There would be an obligation of the new site to ensure the cats are monitored. As to veterinary care that would need to be arranged in advance obviously and it might take on the appearance of a conveyor belt.
Ally Cat Allies say that once relocated the feral cats should be confined to cages initially for 24 hours and then released into a closed environment (e.g. a barn) for 21 days during which they are monitored and feed etc. The organizers need to follow up with frequent discussions with the caretakers.