This headline is not meant to suggest approaching feral outdoor cats. It is never a good idea to confront outdoor animals; leave that to trained animal experts.
Feral cats are often misunderstood by people and often perceived as a community health threat or nuisance. The concerns often lead to calls to Animal Control, which usually result in killing of the cat(s).
In addition to not being a humane option, euthanasia is not an effective method of population control. The evidence is seen in the increasing numbers of feral cat populations throughout the country.
What does effectively control feral cat populations? Trap, Neuter and Release programs have been shown to reduce unwanted feral cat populations.
For the most part, feral cats are shy, nervous and unsociable, preferring to stay a safe distance from people. Due to their constant struggle to survive, feral felines often appear undesirable, malnourished and dirty. Contrary to their dirty appearance, feral cats pose no significant health threat. Although cats can get parasites (worms), disease and rabies, The Centers for Disease, Control and Prevention (CDC) have not reported cats as a serious community threat for transmission of disease or rabies (preventable viral disease of mammals).
The vast majority of rabies cases reported each year occurs in wild animals. With human intervention and care - parasites, disease, rabies and unwanted overpopulation can easily be controlled.
According to the CDC, “Domestic animals account for less than 10% of the reported rabies cases, with cats, cattle, and dogs most often reported rabid.”
- Think about it, both outdoor house cats and feral felines frequent the same outdoor places and are therefore exposed to the same disease risks.
- Before calling your local animal control, check their policy about feral cats. You may be surprised that most often the policy is to euthanize them upon pick up. Instead, contact The Humane Society, Alley Cat Allies or an organization, veterinarian or shelter near you that cares for feral cats.
- If you are able and interested you can financially contribute and/or become responsible to trap, neuter, release, micro chip and become an "owner" of a feral friend(s).
- Pet owners are protected by law from unreasonable seizure of their pets.
- If adopted young enough, feral cats can be trained to be lovable, petable house pets. Older ferals can too, over time. Each animal has a unique personality, and every cat will respond differently. Feral cats require a lot of patience with no expectations; and they prefer to keep a 'safe' distance from human touch.
- Your support can help your community humanely work towards ending the problems of unmanaged feral cat colonies, community nuisances, wildlife concerns and the needless suffering of the cats.
Burlington County Feral Cat Initiative Trap, Neuter, Release (TNR) programs working across the country
Effectively Managing Feral Cats CD/DVD offer by The Humane Society: Fixing Feral Cat Overpopulation, How to Perform a Mass Trapping, Implementing a Community TNR Program
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