What sort of person is a feral cat caretaker?

You probably guessed it, almost 90% of feral cat colony caretakers are educated women. They do it out of love for cats and animals and for their welfare. They are wonderful people. Never criticise them. You might not like feral cats but that is beside the point. These are good people trying to do right by feral cats. Feral cats were put there by us, by people and we owe a duty towards them to look after their welfare and treat them decently and to respect them. These good women do it. And let’s not forget the small percentage of men who do the same thing. They’re great guys.

Feral cats in managed colonies appear to be in good health and can obtain “whatever level of interaction they need with their caretaker”. Feral cat caretakers often have strong bonds with their feral cats.

If you’re a community cat caretaker/guardian please tell me your story in a comment. I’d love to hear from you.


An Hawaiian study of 75 colony caretakers found that most of them were female, middle-aged, married and well educated. They also owned their own pets and were in full-time employment. Therefore their dedication and interest motivated them to care for their feral cats outside of work hours. They spent considerable time and their own money caring for their feral cat colonies. They were motivated by their love of cats and the opportunity to look after them. They received feelings of enhanced self-esteem.

A study in Florida, USA of 101 caretakers looking after 920 cats in 132 colonies found that 84% were female. The average age was 45 years. The age range was from 19 years of age to 74 years of age. Almost 90% of the caretakers owned their own pets. Two thirds of them owned cats. More than half the caretakers were married. The most common reason given for caring for feral cats was “sympathy or ethical concern followed by loving animals or cats”.

Feral cat colony caretakers are good people. No one can deny it. A better word for ‘feral cat’ is ‘community cat’ because like it or loathe it they are part of the community.


  • Haspel & Calhoon 1993
  • Natoli et al 1999
  • Zsloff & Hart 1998
  • Centoze & Levy 2002

Photos: Jacksonville.com (bottom photo). Top photo: Daily Mail via Corbis, ZUMA Press and Bart Ah You.

14 thoughts on “What sort of person is a feral cat caretaker?”

  1. I have been feeding two feral cats for 10 years but have complaints from a neighbor who threatens to get rid of them. They have both been neuter and spayed and even though I have tried to take them in with me to live, they prefer to live outside. I’m wondering what I can do about the legal threats from this neighbor. The cats are a brother and sister who are very attached to each other.

    • There are quite a few things. Firstly, if he harms the cats it will be crime almost certainly. One thing you can do is use social media to your advantage. You can put pressure on bad people and expose them online for their bad deeds.

      Linda, if you tell me some more – give me some hard details in another comment – I will write an article on this and spread the word on social media where someone who is lives not far from you may well pick it up and that puts pressure on the person.

      Please tell me more and I do a sympathetic article. I have a contact on Facebook who is good at networking. She’ll spread the word and we can see if we can protect you and the cats.

      If you live in a detached home and have the money you might be able to build a cat enclosure which lets them go outside safely but this is probably not workable for you and even the cats. Just a thought.

      There are a lot of people like you Linda. There really are. You are not alone.

  2. Hello. I live in a condo in Florida, and have 3 cats I TNRd when nobody else would help them
    I have fed and supported them for 3 years, being harassed, discriminated against, and threatened. I try to sneak food out now, but am being watched by neighboring apartments and they tattle. I cry my eyes out wanting to see them. They sit and wait for me. I need legal or any support anyone can give. I am attached to these cats. They love me too. Please help. I am scared to get put out of here. I refuse to stop feeding. I can’t let them starve.

    • Hi Leslie, I am going to make your comment an article and ask for TNR people in Florida to help. I wrote an article about people like you. You are not alone in being harassed and discriminated against. That, though, won’t help you. If you are genuinely being harassed it would be a crime against you but it’s unlikely the police would get involved in that. There is also the added problem of exacerbating an already difficult neighbor problem. The more you wind things up the worse it gets until it becomes intolerable.

      I admire you a lot for what you do and I know how difficult it can be. The problem, as you know, is that some people believe that feral cats should be eradicated while others are kinder and they believe that feral cats should be treated humanely. You are in the latter camp.

      Can you tell me a bit more about yourself? Can you tell me more precisely where you live. Do you live in a rented apartment (it looks as if you do)?

  3. I to do this because its not their fault they are out there its ours and I firmly believe God sends them to me when he knows I will help I have saved blind cats and matted cats and I have had a momma cat bring her babies to me she was blind in one eye I have had sick cats come to me so I could take them to a vet and get them help I have 2 outside right now I am trying to help and 2 baby possums whose mom was killed they come to and knock on my screen door I cannot leave them starve its so wrong. Before you tell me not to feed the possums I am working with a widlife rehabber to help them they are very little and scared but they are safe. i just cannot turn away its not right. I love these animals and I have found homes for so many.

    • Debbie, I can feel your true love for these animals and it is great. We should all love animals like you. It would be a better world.

  4. I live in the country and have 20 cats I feed and vet twice a day every day. They just “show up”. I can’t stand to sit by and watch an animal starve or go thirsty. It’s not easy and it isn’t cheap. I get help financially by my social media friends and I’m eternally grateful to them. Some may call them “just” cats or “just” dogs. To me they aren’t “just” anything. They need love and attention that includes feeding and vetting. I’m a firm believer in TNR and will promote it till the end of time. I agree with “they were put there by us, by people.” I agree 100%. If people would spay/neuter their pets, dogs, cats, whatever, it would help tremendously! Thank you to everyone doing what you do! I commend you and love you for it!

    • Thanks Ruby. You feelings towards feral cats mirrors mine. You can’t stand to ignore them. This is your compassionate heart. Everyone should have your heart.

  5. I know of 2 men who care for feral cat colonies. One of them even helped with my cat’s vet expenses. They’re very loving, caring guys, much like our own Michael.

    I’m unable to do the physical work involved, but I have had bake sale fundraisers to support the cat’s needs.

    • Well done Sandra. This page did well today 22nd July 2018, getting on for a year after I wrote it. It is a good page because praise is due to the good women who are so genuinely devoted to feral cats. It is so right and decent. I admire them tremendously.

  6. God bless these awesome people. I have 4 deaf feral cats living in my home. They are awesome cats! We interact on their terms and whenever they want. Getting them to the vet can be an interesting experience.

    • I had a white deaf cat who was also declawed, and he (Polar Bear) was very interesting. I really felt for the stress and pain he endured his whole life, but he and I had the understanding that we would make the best of it. When he put his complete trust in me and loved me, I was on top of the world. He was no trouble going to the vet… he even loved the car ride. Man I miss him so much…


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