Statement on feeding feral colonies
14 May 2020
These are challenging times. Across the UK most of us have to juggle risk to ourselves and to others on a daily basis. Cats Protection’s priorities are to keep our staff and volunteers safe, protect the public and, within that context, to do our best for cats and comply with the law.
Following the national lockdown on 23rd March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cats Protection’s position on the feeding of feral colonies was that it could only be undertaken if it could be done within government restrictions – i.e. if it could form part of a volunteer’s permitted daily exercise.
The Charity is regularly reviewing the activities that are safe for our volunteers to undertake, and making judgements about safety in the context of government guidance. On 11th May the Government published amended guidance which came into effect on 13th May. Our position remains the same - volunteers can feed feral colonies if it forms part of their permitted daily exercise. Volunteers who live in England and feed colonies in England can drive or walk to the colony, but should not take public transport.
As a species, cats are natural hunters and many feral cats are very good at looking after themselves through hunting and scavenging. Cats Protection’s position is that colonies of feral cats should not be fed unless there is a concurrent Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) programme in place. There is a close link between nutrition and reproduction in cats, so feeding a colony where there are unneutered cats will rapidly lead to an increase in numbers of kittens, unless neutering is also carried out. Neutered feral cats should not be over fed as obesity is contrary to their welfare and, after neutering, their calorific requirements will decrease.
Whilst we continue to regularly review our activities in line with government guidance, we have assessed that it’s not possible for our staff or volunteers to carry out TNR and remain safe and within the law at the current time.