What is meant by Feral cats?
Feral cats are those cats which live wild, where a group of feral cats live together, this is referred to as a colony.
They shun human contact, though starvation will often force them into close proximity with us when scavenging for leftovers.
Ferals may have been born into the colony or they may have been stray or abandoned cats that have reverted back to a semi-feral state.
Starvation, ill-health, disease and over-population often provoking culling, are amongst the biggest problems faced by feral colonies.
There is a big difference between a lost cat which may be initially a little scared of being handled by a stranger and a true feral cat which will be irreversibly frightened to the core.
Can they be domesticated?
In order to domesticate a feral cat it is really necessary to be able to intervene whilst that cat is still a kitten. Once past the eight week stage it fast becomes increasingly difficult to reduce the kittens' fear of human contact.
You will always hear people bragging about having domesticated their family cat which they claim, was a feral when first found, but in most cases the cat was probably just lost a few days before and simply a little scared for the first day or two.
There is a world of difference between this and a truly feral cat.
Neutering Feral Cats
It is normally essential to use a special humane trap with which to catch feral cats safely, so that they can be taken to the vet to be neutered or otherwise treated.
During anesthesia it is good practise for the vet to ear-tip, for future identification purposes. This is done by surgically removing a six milimetre sliver from the left ear.
This is a lessor cruelty than the consequences of failing to indicate effectively which cats have and have not been trapped, assessed, treated and neutered.
What can be done to help feral cats?
The best thing to help feral cats is to put out dried food regularly, as opposed to tinned meat which will soon be covered in fly eggs and to provide a warm, dry hideaway for the cats out of the wind.
In the long term the stability of a feral colony may be dependent upon its size.
Should the colony grow too large then its existence will become increasingly threatened by people to whom the cats may constiute a nuisance.
You can do the best for the colony by having neutered all it members, which will will help contain its population growth.
Found Some Kittens?
If you have feral kittens growing up in your back garden you should try and get a rescue organisation to take them as soon as possible.
If they are less than five weeks of age, then the mother should be trapped and kept with them in a pen suitable for feral cats, for the next few weeks.
What then happens to the mother?
When seperated, the queen, if a feral, should be spayed, ear-tipped and returned to the place where she was caught.
To force close contact upon her, if unwelcome, can be cruel and dangerous. It is not cruel to return a feral cat to her point of capture.
This is what she is used to and there is normally no viable alternative. Sometimes it is possible to secure a few places on farms or stables for feral cats but these offers are few and far between.
We normally try and keep such places for relocating feral cats whose colony is under some form of threat.
Our Feral Help Programme involves:
Charlie cuddling up with the slightly younger siblings recently started a new life on a small holding near Hexham with owner Mark caring for them.
All three cats have now been neutered and are used to people to some extent but not easy quite suitable to home in the normal way. On the small holding they will have plenty of dry sheltered spots, someone feeding and caring for them but the freedom and space to be independent. Thanks to Tim, Claire & Norma who settled them in!
Hi Paul, Norma and everyone
Well - Saturday was the big day - the kitchen door was opened to the BIG outside world. Charlie, Alfie and Poppy sat apprehensively by it for most of the day - and then mid-afternoon they ventured out one by one - and then disappeared.
I set up an outside feeding near the back door, in hope of seeing them again.
Sunday - no sign
Monday - no sign - but food was eaten overnight
Tuesday - no sign most of the day - but food eaten overnight (I was
home based that day) - then .... they re-appeared - PHEW - saw
two furry bums rushing away as I pulled into the yard with the
Wednesday -they are around, and came into the kitchen and ate crunchy
treats from my hand
Today - they have been kicking around as I worked in the yard - climbing
in the log pile and Charlie followed Vicki when she went to cut
some spinach for our tea. Have also appeared on the lounge
windowsill So I guess it has
Pics form today - attached
Cheers Mark 26/02/2015