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Time to Voice Your Opinion

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
There are often many stray or "feral" cats in my neighborhood. In the past, I have dealt with this by renting a trap from my local shelter, setting the trap, and evaluating the cat once it is caught. Only once has a cat turned out to be nice, in that case I found it a new home. But most of the time the cats are feral...and adult, which means they are hard to re-train!

Now, in the case that the cat we catch is a feral, I simply have taken it to my local shelter, and they hold it for 3 days, and if it does not start to act nice during that stray holding period, then it is euthanized by injection.

Is this the right thing to do? I know that there have been good TNR programs in other areas for these types of ferals, but not in my area. I wish there was, and have thought of starting a TNR program of my own, but found that it was way too much to handle.

What to do? I do not have the money to have all the cats that we catch get fixed, nor do I have the time to even try to re-train them. And even if I did have enough money to fix all the cats that we catch and re-release them into the wild, I do live in a populated area, and I often see dead cats by the side of the road.

Any suggestions?
post #2 of 7
Kutin...First I'm glad you are posting about this. Second..please contact this group and see if they can help you find a group to help you.


post #3 of 7
First, let me say it's great that you care enough to do anything. I was in the same situation last year; there were several ferals that would come through my yard. Many nights I would hear fighting, mating, and once a whole litter of sick kittens turned up in my yard (that was waaaay before I really got involved with cats). When a stray showed up on my front lawn, I fell in love and started to learn everything I could about cats.

Initially, I did the same as you; I trapped the cats and handed them over to the Humane Society. At first I was naive and thought that they had staff that would work with the ferals and socialize them, but I quickly learned that most shelters (and especially this one) couldn't help ferals at all. I know now that if the only thing you can do is trap them and bring them to the Humane Society, it's probably better to do nothing at all. There will always be more ferals to take the place of the ones you remove; something is drawing the cats to the area, some food source. Just removing cats is a wasted effort (which I learned the hard way).

Another thing to realize is that there is a natural equilibrium; the area will only support a certain number of cats. If more cats come they will either be driven off by the resident cats or there won't be enough food to keep them around. One thing that can upset this equilibrium is if someone feeds the cats but doesn't get them neutered.

I guess the point to all this is, if you don't have the resources for TNR, then leaving the cats alone IS an option. Yes, the cats will have litters of kittens, but if left alone, half of those kittens will most likely die and the others will either leave the area or push out the old cats, again stabilizing the number.

The only thing is that you might not be able to recognize which cats are friendly without feeding them first and giving them some time to get to know you. The biggest problem I had with just leaving food down is that it always attracts more cats. Now, I just feed the specific feral that I neutered, and no new cats have shown up.

Just a bit of extra info. When I started doing TNR, there were a group of about 5 ferals that I always saw around. After trapping a couple and bringing them to the Humane Society, they were soon replaced by others. So, I started getting the neutered and returning them. Strangely, most never came back for feeding. Now I only feed the one feral, and occasionally (like once a year) see the others that I neutered, but they don't come for food. I haven't seen any new ones, so I assume that the ones I neutered are still around but just not as visible.

I know that wasn't that helpful, but that's been my experience. I hope Katie's link is helpful and you can find some like-minded individuals to work with. If nothing else,maybe you can neuter just a couple of cats and feed them. At least you will have helped some and not taxed your budget too much.
post #4 of 7
Thanks Katie for providing that link to Kutin. Kutin - I really hope Indy Feral can help.

If not, it is a difficult decision. Some Trap-Neuter-Release programs do not provide follow-up assistance. People trap the cats, have them spayed or neutered and simply return them to exactly where they found them. This is a valuable service as it helps prevent further breeding.

I'm so glad to hear you've trapped the cats in the past, and are not actively feeding them. So many people with big hearts want to help the cats by feeding them - which, of course, only exacerbates the problem. It sounds cruel, but unless they can be spayed and neutered, it's best not to help support them.

There are probably low-cost spay/neuter services available in your area. If Indy Feral can't help, please click on the link in my signature line. It will allow you to search for low-cost spay/neuter services. You can also just pick up the phone and call local area shelters and vets to enquire about low-cost spay/neuter services. We've found area vets always willing to be helpful. It also depends upon your level of interest or commitment. We couldn't always afford all the services - but we were willing to pay over time, and the vet was willing to accept that.

I personally do not believe in having the cats euthanized just because they've lived on their own their entire lives. If they test positive for FIV or FeLV, that's different. But ferals that have always been on their own, or strays that have negative interaction with humans are not easily socializable. If you've read Lucky's story (http://www.thecatsite.com/forums/sho...threadid=11395), you'll see it can take months - but still be very rewarding.

You obviously have an interest in saving these cats. I would stop taking the cats to the shelter, and I'd try to find a low-cost spay/neuter service to help enable you to afford to trap the cats.

You can also try to find help by contacting www.alleycat.org . They may have someone in the area who can help.

If you'd like to learn more about the problem of stray and feral cats, please visit www.straypetadvocacy.org . Unfortunately, euthanization does not help the problem go away. Especially in populated areas, when feral cats are removed from an area which obviously supported them, other ferals simply move in. It is called the vaccum effect, and it is real.

Hope this has been a little bit helpful! Please let us know how it goes, or please ask any other questions you may have.
post #5 of 7
As someone who specializes in socializing ferals, it does take a long time, but it is doable. Our longest challenge was Franklin, who one day showed up in the rafters of our garage and stayed there for a year. When he finally decided to trust us, he turned out to be an magnificent and loving lap kitty. Who would have thought? We have taken in ferals who have been abused, and again, they are a challange but they can be saved and you can find a cat hiding within the feralness. The shelters here refuse to take ferals, and even dropping off strays they charge. If I can't find homes for them or a nice barn, they are merged into my group here. You just have to work with the cat, and not against it- by that I mean, you have to follow the cat's lead and try not to mold the cat into what you yourself believes to be the ideal cat. It just never works to think that way.
post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 
Thanks, everyone, for your great advice. I contacted Indy Feral, and asked a few questions, and asked if they knew of anyone that could help. I just recently learned that someone else in my area is interested in starting a program, so at least I know I'm not alone!

I will keep you updated about what goes on, and what is decided.
post #7 of 7
Just a suggestion, but have you tried contact any no-kill shelters in your area that might be willing to take one or two cats from time to time. As a volenteer for a no-kill shelter I know that we are often over crowded, but maybe if you develop a relationship with the shelters & offer to volenteer some of your time to help they might be able to make some room. You may not be able to save a whole lot of cats this way, but it's a start. At our shelter we socialize ferals & for the most part we are sucsessful. There have been a couple that haven't come around, but you would be supprised what great strides are made especially if they can be fostered & have one on one time in a home with people.
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