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Feral felines

Caring for community cats

Kind News magazine, Feb/Mar 2017

    Without someone caring for them, feral cats often lead short, hard lives. Trap-neuter-return programs help reduce the number of ferals in the community. Photo courtesy of Neighborhood Cats

Almost every community has them. They live in backyards, vacant buildings, streets and fields. To survive, they eat garbage and may hunt small animals. Without someone caring for them, feral cats often lead short, hard lives.

Where do feral cats come from?

The problem starts when cats are abandoned, are allowed to roam outside or escape from their indoor home. If they aren't spayed or neutered, those cats breed. They may become pregnant as young as five months old. Their kittens grow up without human contact. The group of feral cats (known as a colony) grows quickly as litter after litter of kittens is born.

What can be done to help them?

Some communities have begun trap-neuter-return (TNR) programs. The idea behind TNR is to reduce the number of kittens being born in a cat colony. With TNR, organizations and/or volunteers trap the cats. A veterinarian performs spay or neuter operations on the cats to keep them from having more babies. Female cats are spayed, males are neutered. The cats are vaccinated against rabies and an ear is marked to show that they've had the operation. Once the cats recover, they are returned to their colony. Volunteers provide them with food, water, shelter and love.

People can prevent their cats from contributing to a feral cat colony by having female cats spayed and male cats neutered by five months of age. Keep your cat indoors and provide your pet with a collar and visible identification. It's also important to search immediate if your cat goes missing.

World Spay Day is February 28, 2017. Remind people to spay or neuter their pets!

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