Feature Page - Feral cats

All kittens are born inherently wild, it is through contact with humans that they become socialised and domesticated. Any kitten that doesn’t have contact with human beings will become feral. If they have not become used to people by the time they are 8 weeks old it is much more difficult to gain their trust and it may well be too late to ever do so.

Feral cats often live in groups and are found in places such as farms, factories, public parks and the gardens of private houses. It has been estimated that the un-owned cat population of is about 1.2 million.

From the age of four months, a feral female can have up to three litters a year, with up to 8 kittens in each litter. In just five years she can be responsible for 20,000 descendants. Colonies grow rapidly, outstripping food supply.  Infectious diseases such as cat flu, Feline Leukaemia Virus (FelV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)  often spread amongst them, causing suffering and even death. It is therefore important to trap and neuter feral cats to keep the population under control and ensure that the cats can live happy and healthier lives.

Cats have lived on farms and smallholdings for hundreds of years. Most are not regarded as pets, but as working animals that are expected to earn their living by keeping yards and outbuildings free of mice and rats. In more recent times working cats have also been found to be useful in more urban situations such as, industrial estates and hospital grounds.

Working cats, like any other animals, need regular feeding and proper attention when ill or injured. They should also be regularly deflead and wormed, especially if they are active hunters.

We at Cats Protection can help with feral cats in a variety of ways;

  • Assisting with trapping
  • The cats are checked over by our local vet and blood tests for FelV and FIV carried out
  • If all is well the cats are neutered and returned to their home site
  • If we are unable to return feral cats to their original home, we find new homes for them as working cats on farms, in stables etc
  • If kittens are young enough, with lots of love and attention, their shyness towards humans can be overcome. Every year we manage to successfully home kittens born to feral mothers as domestic pets

Trapping

  • Humane traps are placed in the area the cat visits
  • The trap is covered as an enclosed trap is more attractive to the cat and once inside the darkness helps to keep it calm
  • To ensure the cat will go into the trap, the only food given, is that placed inside the trap.