What to do with feral cats and kittens?

People ask: What to do with feral cats and kittens? The answer depends on whether you are looking at the big picture or what YOU can do with a feral cat and/or kittens that you have met.

Tabby semi-feral cat greets with a trill
Tabby semi-feral cat greets with a trill. Screenshot from YouTube video.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

The big picture

The focus should not be on the feral cats but on people. The question in the title should be rephrased to read: What to do with irresponsible cat owners and their kids? Or something like that. Kids are important because they learn from their parents, and in homes where there is a bad relationship between human and cat, what they learn isn’t that good when it comes to how to relate to domestic cats.

The big picture is reducing the number of feral cats to the lowest figure that is practically possible. It all starts with education and improving the cat caretaking duties of a minority of irresponsible cat owners so that they never let their cats procreate and never abandon them. No allowing a female cat to have one litter before she is spayed. No casual, informal cat breeding so a person can make a few bucks/quid on the side as a neighbour of mine did for years. My God she was bloody awful. She was on the committee for an apartment complex where I lived.

Butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth. Except she deliberately lost a blind kitten that her female, breeding cat had given birth to. She couldn’t find a home for the blind boy so he conveniently went missing. In other words, he starved to death somewhere.

The big picture should be a focus on all citizens and improving cat ownership standards across the board to reduce the number of cats which find their way into the community as unowned cats. All domestic cats should be living with someone who loves them. If they can’t love them, they shouldn’t have a cat.

Feral cats feeding on dry cat food
Feral cats feeding on dry cat food. Photo in the public domain.

At an individual level

You can adopt a feral cat and domesticate (socialize) her or him. Give him a good life. It might be a challenge but it is doable. Or join a group of volunteers managing a feral cat colony doing TNR. They are great people. A great way to socialise too if you are living alone. Although there are dangers in managing a cat colony in a public place as a lot or residents don’t like to see it. They don’t like TNR as it means feeding the cats. Some residents perceive that as creating a nuisance. Many others, however, appreciate the good work. And see the law issues below.

Acceptance

There seems to be an acceptance that feral cats will always be around. This ensures that they are always around. There is no law which says that. There could be no feral cats. That’s the goal. To achieve that humanely and without any killing would take around 30 years I guess and it would require a massive input in terms of resources from local government across a country.

In some countries it is inconceivable that they will reduce the feral cat population because they are simply too disorganised. In developing countries, they struggle sometimes to feed themselves. Feral cats are well down the list of priorities. So realistically, not much can be done with feral cats in poorer countries.

Are feral cats protected by law?
Are feral cats protected by law? Image: MikeB from Pixabay (law image) and in public domain (cat).

The law

People love their freedoms and don’t want government interference. Fine but they have to act responsibly and with the betterment of the community in mind if they want those freedoms. Sadly, there is always one pain in the bum who messes around. Changes to the law can change attitudes. You could lobby the local government to create law (ordinances in America) which formalises a partnership between TNR volunteers and local government. Or a law which limits the number of cats people have to five. Or which makes spaying and neutering mandatory (and microchipping). All improve cat welfare and should reduce the number of feral cats over a long time frame.

SOME MORE ON FEEDING FERAL CATS:

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