Help Feral Cats
How to help Feral and Community Cats
What are feral cats?
The word 'feral' means members of a domesticated species that have reverted to living as wild animals and have had little or no contact with humans.
You can find out more about the difference between ferals and strays in our visual guide:
What makes a cat feral?
Cats learn what is normal at a very young age, during what is known as a 'socialisation period.' Between the ages of two to six weeks, kittens can learn to enjoy human contact, forming a bond and becoming great pets.
Feral cats are usually the offspring of stray, feral or abandoned cats and have missed out on this early experience, making them likely to be wary of humans.
How can I care for a feral cat?
Despite their wild nature, feral cats still need a level of care. With many ferals living in colonies, the cat population can grow quickly. Neutering and returning the cats to their colony stops continual breeding.
While most ferals are resourceful when it comes to finding food, it is good to keep an eye on them during the winter. If you suspect a feral cat is sick or injured, they can be trapped and taken to the vet.
Can I tame a feral cat?
No. Feral cats have little or no contact with humans and should not be tamed. Confining a feral cat in a cage or pen for any length of time is extremely traumatic for the cat and is cruel. Whilst the cat may eventually calm down in the pen, this is a sign of the cat withdrawing and is not a sign that the cat has been tamed.
Can Lichfield and Tamworth Cats Protection help with a feral colony?
Feral cats, or those born wild, are equally protected in law as domestic cats and are more susceptible to disease. Simply removing feral cats isn't a long-term solution - a new colony will often move in.
The best option is to neuter all of the feral cats within as short a time frame as possible, reducing the size of the colony and therefore keeping vermin levels down. Cats Protection may be able to help towards the cost of neutering a feral colony, however, if it is safe to do so, the cats will be returned to their original site.
If you'd like more information on feral neutering or require some assistance with feral cats in your area, please contact us on 0345 371 2741 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Community or Stray cats are different from feral cats. Community cats have had human contact and may in fact be owned.
Is the cat a stray?
If the cat appears to be a healthy weight and well groomed, it might belong to someone else. Ask your neighbours if they recognise the cat or check out local newspapers and Facebook groups for listed missing pets.
If the cat is friendly to approach, check the collar for ID tags. If there are no visible signs of ownership, take the cat to your nearest vet or contact us to help scan the cat for a microchip.
Contact can then be made with the owners to arrange a happy reunion.
Worried about a stray cat's health?
A lost cat might be nervous, particularly if it is sick or injured. Approach with care by carefully covering the cat in a blanket before picking them up and putting them in a cat basket - this keeps them safe as well as protecting you from claws!
If you're worried about a stray cat's health, contact the following on their emergency numbers. RSPCA (England and Wales) 0300 1234 999, USPCA 028 3025 1000 (Northern Ireland) or SSCPC 03000 999 999 (Scotland). If you are able to take the cat to the vets, the RSPCA may be able to provide a log number which will allow the vets to provide an intial consultation and treatment.
If the cat is injured, you can take it to your nearest veterinary practice immediately. The vet will be able to check for a microchip and possibly trace the owners.