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Student Action: Care for Ferals

Feral cats may be scared of people, but that doesn't mean they don't need our help

Feral or wild cats are the offspring of un-spayed and un-neutered feral cats and lost or abandoned pet cats. They usually live with a group of related cats known as a colony.

Because they lack contact and positive experiences with people, feral cats fear us. There are an estimated 10-50 million feral cats in the United States.

Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) is a method for improving the lives of feral cats and preventing the birth of more cats. TNR reduces or eliminates the nuisance behaviors (reproducing, yowling, fighting, spraying and roaming) associated with un-spayed and un-neutered cats.

Dedicated caretakers feed and provide shelter for TNRed cats, monitor the TNRed cats for sickness, and remove new cats for TNR if feral or possible adoption if tame.

You can help to protect feral cats and promote TNR! Read on to learn how.

1. Partner Up. The first step is to find a feral cat group or other animal organization which helps feral cats in your community. If you already have one in mind, great! If not, check our list of feral cat organizations to find one near you, or email cats@humanesociety.org to locate a group. If there is no group in your area, you can help The Humane Society of the United States' Outdoor Cat Program.

2. Know Your Stuff. Learn about feral cats and how they impact the community. To learn more about feral cats and TNR on your own, visit the Outdoor Cats page. If working with an organization, visit its website or talk with an employee. What is its mission? If it provides direct care for animals, how many does it typically receive in a given time period? What does it need from the community? 

3. Pass It On. Use your knowledge to help educate others about feral cats, how their colonies can live peacefully with local communities, and the benefits of TNR. Spread the word about feral cats by passing out fliers asking others to help feral cats and support TNR.

4. Take Action! Once you've figured out the best way to help, choose one project from the list of four options below.

Build a feral cat shelter

Give feral cats a warm, dry place to curl up in—build them a house! Building plans for feral cat housing are available at feralcat.com/shelter.html and spayandstay.org/wintershelter.htm. You might also get some ideas from this plan, developed as part of a Scout project.

Hold a food and supply drive for a local feral cat group

Call the organization or check their website to find out what items they need most. Some may need items such as towels, blankets, bandages, toys, treats, or office supplies. To organize your collection, follow the guidelines for holding a supply drive.

Create a short video or Public Service Announcement (PSA)

Make a video to help educate the community about feral cats and TNR. Be sure to include some basic information located at Feral Cats and Resources for Helping Feral Cats. Direct people to humanesociety.org/feralcats for more information. Upload your video to YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, or another video sharing site. Be sure to send us the link!

Raise Funds for The HSUS's Feral Cat Program Fund

These funds will help to pay for spay/neuter and emergency funds for TNR groups, purchase humane traps, provide grants and education to communities and TNR groups. (Check out our fundraising ideas and tips for inspiration.)

When your fundraiser is over, arrange to send the money you've raised to The HSUS Feral Cat Fund. You can send your funds online or by U.S. mail. Please send your check made payable to: The HSUS to Feral Cat Program, Dept. FERLC1, HSUS, 1255 23rd Street, NW, Suite 450, Washington, DC 20037.

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