Basics About Feral Cats
1. Before you start feeding feral cats or giving them shelter, seek advice from a veterinary professional or reputable animal rescue organization.
Animal lovers have big hearts and want to help homeless cats. Before you start feeding them, you need to take a moment and think about the consequences. When you feed or shelter feral cats, they will come closer to your home and stay. Oftentimes, because feral cats tend to form “colonies,” one cat can attract many more cats. Feral cats can carry diseases, which may cause harm to your cat and your family.
Also, if you leave food outdoors, you can attract wildlife such as raccoons and skunks and coyotes, which can be dangerous to your pets and your family. If you plan on adopting a feral cat, take him/her to your veterinarian and get a clean bill of health before bringing him/her into your home.
2. Keep your cat indoors or closely monitor their time outside
Letting your cats go outside can give them good exercise and stimulation, but safety is a concern. If there are feral cats in the area, there’s a greater chance your pet cat will get into fights with the feral cats. Cat bites can lead to serious bite abscesses, as well as the transmission of the feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and rabies virus. Even if they do not get into a fight, saliva transfer can cause transmission of feline leukemia virus (FELV), which can be fatal. Feral cats often have intestinal parasites, such as roundworms and hookworms, and fleas and ticks that can be transmitted to your pet. If you allow your cats to go outside, the best policy is to monitor them in the back yard and bring them back inside.
3. Ensure your cat’s vaccinations and preventative medications are up-to-date
Whether cats are kept indoors or allowed to spend some of their time outside, it’s important to keep their vaccinations up-to-date (Rabies, FVRCP and FELV). This helps protect them from life-threatening diseases should they come in contact with feral cats in the area. Monthly preventive medication can protect pets from heartworm disease, internal and external parasites.
4. Use resources to ensure a better future for feral cats
If you choose to help feral cats in your area, contact a feral rescue organization or your local shelters. They can guide you through the process of trapping the feral cats so you can take them to your veterinarian for examination, vaccinations, and spay/neuter. Feral cats are unpredictable, so always take extreme caution not to get bit or scratched.
It is wonderful when there is compassion for homeless cats. We hope this provides a basic understanding while at the same time protecting your pets and your family.