If You Love Animals, Help Save Feral Cats

October 30th, 2011 by Magdalena Tabor

Winter is fast approaching and if you’ve been feeding those feral cats all summer long, they’ll need a warm  dry place to stay. People have all kinds of misconceptions about cats. Because of their independent nature, people tend to think cats can fend for themselves and to a certain extent they can. But the sad truth is, these animals won’t live very long if they’re forced to endure extreme cold wet weather year after year. It takes its toll. So, you’ve been feeding that feral cat? Good for you! Now take the extra step in prolonging that precious little life.
I never intended to become the Cat Lady. It happened one winter when I was feeding the birds in my backyard. A small white cat would visit the feeder each day and in ignorance I would shoo her away. What I believed to be mischievous behavior was completely misunderstood. That pile of feathers revealed something more. Put simply, she was starving. I caved in. “Catherine” was fed from that day forward and was my friend for nearly ten years. Others came during this time – her sidekick Heathcliff. And a male I thought I’d been feeding (Mr. Linton) gave birth one Spring to three healthy kittens. I trapped and kept one. My intention was to trap and neuter them all but before I could bat an eyelash, three months later Mrs. Linton got pregnant again. This time there were four. God knows what happened to the other two from the first litter after a not so neighborly neighbor trapped and brought them to a local animal shelter. I was determined this would not be the fate of the second litter. But I needed help and fast!

I queried and I called but it wasn’t until I sought the expertise of two dedicated people at a local organization that things finally began to take shape. They lent me their Have-A-Heart traps for free and helped me to trap all four female kittens along with their mother. Oh, it wasn’t easy. It took round the clock supervision to trap them one by one but in the end it was worth it. When they were brought to be neutered, they discovered that Mom was “in the family  way” once again and so was one of the kittens at just three months old!
So, number one. You must trap and neuter your feral cats. As humans, we are responsible to take on the challenge and reduce the number of feral cats safely and humanely. After all, the problem exists because of us – beginning with the domestic house cat we failed to spay or neuter. Since this is the root of the problem, it’s also the means to its end. And just because you have a male cat, it doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be neutered too. What do you think he’s going to do with all that unharnessed energy? Contact any feral cat organization for help and information. They’ll also put you in touch with how to house your furry friends.
Mine are bundled all safe and snug on my backyard deck which happens to have an awning. Three separate units (small dog houses or large plastic pet crates) are clustered together with warm wool balnkets and rugs inside each one. Or you can even use straw for warm dry bedding. Styrofoam sheets for insulation along with plywood for stability (purchased at Home Depot) are stacked around the units and the whole shebang is covered with a heavy duty plastic tarp to keep out all that wind and snow. They love it. It’s like winter camp. When Spring arrives, simply take it apart, wash the blankets and store them for next season. Replace the winter blankets with some soft cotton ones as shelter against the hot sun and the occasional summer thunderstorm or if we happen to have a rainy season.
My five lovely ladies are happy, healthy and a source of constant joy all year long. Although I’ve given up feeding the birds (an unfair disadvantage to them with five cats to battle) I wouldn’t trade what I have now for anything in the world. They’ve gone from feral to friendly as nature intended. And the glow I feel inside having given them the life that they deserve goes beyond all measure. They give me so much more in return. Keep in mind, if you want to domesticate your furry family, you need to invest in the time. You can gain their trust by keeping perfectly still and letting them go about their business. Attempt to give them treats and eventually they’ll eat right out of your hand. I made it a daily habit of sharing my dinner with them. It took several months but now we’re friends for life.
I want to publicly thank Rob and Joanne at All About Spay & Neuter for their invaluable help four years ago. Please do your part and help support your local feral cat organization or get involved by writing to your congressman to stop the senseless killing of feral cats. The answer is “Trap, Neuter, Return”, an effective measure in eliminating feral cat colonies over time.  To learn more, log on to Alley Cat Allies. Give cats a voice.
So…………..whadayathink? Was this article helpful to you? Will you get more involved and help spread the word? Thanks for reading.

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4 Responses to “If You Love Animals, Help Save Feral Cats”

  1. Chip Says:

    Kudos to you Magdalena. The animals of this world are innocent and loving and need our help. It’s so unfortunate that people don’t see things the same way. You have a heart of gold.

    There’s a saying “what goes around, comes around” and I can only hope your “kindly” neighbor experiences similar treatment from his human counterparts! That being said, there will be a special place in heaven for people like you. I have a neighbor who also cares for ferel cats and while I may not appreciate the kindly gift of a dead mouse or my aromatic present in the flower bed (all of which I’m sure the cats leave with good intentions), I have to admit just seeing the faces on the cats lightens my heart.

  2. magdalena Says:

    I wish all my neighbors were like you.

  3. Cats Belong Indoors Says:

    Please see the following for information if you care about wildlife:

    Feral and other outdoor cats are the unfortunate victims of people who don’t know any better. Neutering and feeding a feral cat will not prevent it from constantly preying on wildlife, especially birds; the healthier a cat is, the more birds it will be able to catch and kill for sport.

  4. magdalena tabor Says:

    Sorry, but I have to partially diaagree with you there. While it’s true that feral cats will continue to prey upon birds, not being sufficiently cared for by well intentioned humans, outdoor cats do not fall into this realm. I have 5 former feral cats (a feral cat who gave birth to 4 kittens) that have been gradually tamed to the point where they can be handled to some extent. They no longer scrounge for birds because there are no bird feeders outside to attract them. They do however, kill the mice around the house which is fine with me. In a perfect world all cats would be indoors. Such as it is, we do the best we can. The whole point of neutering feral cats is to put an end to their populating the neighborhood with more of them, thereby eliminating the problem. The reason it’s promoted is because it’s been proven effective.

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