A Cat is a Cat is a Cat … but, in the minds of most people, there are actually two different types of cats:
- owned family pets, and
- stray or feral cats … the community cats
Why call them community cats? Why should the community have to accept responsibility for someone else’s carelessness?
Caring for these cats IS a community responsibility. Why? Because unaltered cat populations will escalate out of control.
How can this be addressed?
- TNR for feral cats
- Low cost spay neuter for stray cats.
After all … owned or unowned … altered and vaccinated cats are:
- do not engage in nuisance behaviors like spraying and fighting, and of course last but definitely not least
- do not reproduce.
Webmaster Note : The best way that I know how to explain the difference between feral and stray cats is to use the example of two cats, Dora and Oscar, who showed up in my yard a few winters back.
Oscar was a Stray Cat
What does that mean? At some point in time, he was somebody’s best boy. When he showed up, Oscar was very friendly and already socialized to people. When he went to the vets for his test and first vaccines, we discovered he was already neutered … how sad for him to be taken out here and dumped after being someone’s pet for five years.
How do lovely cats like Oscar become homeless? They rarely pack their bags and leave home. In many cases, their guardians do not understand how easy it is to make Love Last Forever and assume that the only option is to get rid of their faithful friend. Animal shelters and rescues are bursting at the seams with cats and seldom have room for owner surrenders. So these good cats are taken out and dumped, often left to fend for themselves in woodland areas full of predators on country roads that are heavily travelled by gravel trucks and farm equipment.
In many cases, kind hearted people start feeding the friendly strays who show up in their yards. In all honesty, it is not humane to let the cats starve. However, unless these cats are vaccinated and altered, the situation can rapidly escalate out of control. Left unchecked, a couple of strays can quickly become a couple of dozen. What can be done when people can’t afford to get the cat spayed? Depending on where you live in Nova Scotia, there are a few NS Spay Neuter Resources that may be able to help. Some animal clinics may be willing to help with either a discount or by being willing to negotiate payment terms.
Dora was a Feral Kitten
What does that mean? Dora’s mother was either a stray or a feral cat…. but either way Dora was born in the wild…. and odds are fairly good she was orphaned very young, as we were never able to find any siblings or her mother. Dora was very shy of people and it took a couple of months to build enough trust to get my paws on her so she could be tested, vaccinated and spayed.
How do cats become feral? A feral cat is born to either an abandoned stray or to a feral cat. In many cases the first generation of ferals are born to a young mother cat who was scarcely more than a kitten herself. Their owners were either too inexperienced, too cheap or too careless to get them spayed before they could become pregnant. Instead of fixing the problem with a pregnant spay, the little mother cats are abandoned and left to fend for themselves. Those that survive, along with their offspring, go on to produce unimaginable numbers of feral cats
Feral cats are often gathered in groups that are referred to as colonies. They are attracted to places where there is some sort of shelter and an available food source. If the colony is removed, the location will continue to attract more feral cats. This is referred to as the vacuum effect and is the real reason why catching and killing feral cats will not solve the problem. Trap Neuter Return works because the colony population cannot reproduce and do not engage in nuisance behaviors like fighting and spraying For best results, there should be a volunteer to act as a caretaker to monitor the numbers and health of the colony.
The term “Community Cats” includes both stray and feral cats. Why?
- Because a meaningful and humane solution is a community responsibility
- Vaccinating and altering stray and feral cats creates healthier communities
- Seeking humane solutions promotes respect for life and teaches the children in the community good values
How can you help?
- Spay and neuter your own pets
- Contact your municipal councilors to encourage them to provide funding for spay neuter and for TNR projects
- Encourage people in your community to alter the strays they are feeding
- Organize a Community Cats Workshop
- Support your local Trap Neuter Return group by volunteering or donating
- Write an article for your local paper
- Spread the word about Alley Cat Allies – National Feral Cat Day
- Last but not least …. talk, talk, talk to your friends, family, neighbours and acquaintances about the need to care for the Community Cats