Why should people stop feeding feral cats?

A person asked, “Why should people stop feeding feral cats?” The question presupposes that people should stop feeding feral cats when this is incorrect. The standard, humane decision must be to feed feral cats provided (a) they are feed at certain times only to minimise attracting wildlife and (b) they are trapped, vaccinated, neutered and returned (TNRed) at the same time.

Feral cat feeding stations
Feral cat feeding stations
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Cat lovers have to take into account the feelings and desires of other people who are not fond of cats and who want to protect wildlife from cat predation.

The best way to strike a balance between people with different objectives and between treating feral cats humanely while protecting wildlife is to do as I state above.

A lot of people will say, with passion, that people must not feed feral cats. There have been some very high profile cases on this very topic over the years. On one occasion it caused a local council to change their policy regarding feral cats.

It attracts unwanted wildlife

The big issue for many is that feeding feral cats attracts unwanted wildlife because they feed too. They say that this causes a human health issue (spread of disease). It is a reasonable but exaggerated argument. The best compromise is to feed at certain times and to take up the food afterwards. This is a controlled way of doing things which should appease bird lovers.

However, bird lovers in general hate feral cats and TNR because it leaves the cats in place to kill birds. They want instant retribution and cessation of bird killing. However killing feral cats fails (vacuum effect) and is inhumane. The counter argument has been well rehearsed: humans created feral cats therefore morally we have a duty to treat them decently.

Can’t ignore feral cats as it is our problem

To return to the question: Why should people stop feeding feral cats? The answer is because it upsets a lot of people who think it causes human health issues. But you can’t not feed feral cats if they are dying of starvation because decency prevents us behaving like that. Therefore we compromise as stated.



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9 thoughts on “Why should people stop feeding feral cats?”

  1. Feral cats were often a sticking point when I was associated with a local no kill animal shelter. They were trapped, brought in for vet work, desexed, microchipped and sent to various foster homes in the hopes that they could be tamed and then adopted out to suitable families. Some of these cats came in with very little hope or chance of rehabilitation. They were terrified, had lived their whole lives with very little contact with humans and no amount of patience, kindness and rehabilitation was going to make them either able to be handled or adoptable elsewhere. There was argument among many of the senior members on both sides, those that strongly opposed to euthanising any animals, and those that stated it was cruel to keep them alive living in a state of terror, a drain on all ready limited financial resources and counterproductive overall to the purpose of the organisation.
    It’s a very tough call.

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