Updated: Sep 10, 2018
While cats may thrive online - think Grumpy Cat, Maru and of course LOL cats - offline it’s a different story. The sad reality is that there are millions of community cats across the USA, reports the ASPCA, and they need far more than keystrokes to survive. Whether they are stray cats, either lost or abandoned, or feral, which are cats that were born and raised in the wild, most community cats endure a rough existence.
They face weather extremes, potential starvation and attacks from other animals and humans. Almost half of those kittens born outdoors die before their first year due to diseases and exposure to the elements, ASPCA points out. And when they are not welcome in the community, they often face population control.
How you can help
Community cats depend on our help. They may be in need of food and water or are injured or sick and need the care of a veterinary professional. You’ll first need to determine if the cat is stray or feral and therefore more than likely unapproachable.
While they may have been socialized at some point, stray cats may have become timid and possibly even wild if they have been on their own too long. They most likely will be scared at being approached and run off and hide. But with time, some coaxing through continued offers of food, they should eventually warm up you. You’ll want to find out if they are lost by checking with the local humane society to see if anyone has called in about losing their cat. Also ask around the neighborhood to see if anyone knows the kitty. There even may be signs posted in the area about a lost cat.
Once you have won the cat’s confidence, you may be able to pick them up and put them in a carrier. If not, try luring them into a carrier or humane trap with food. You can borrow a humane trap from a local rescue or humane society and they can show you how to set it up the trap and entice the kitty to venture in. A veterinarian or local humane society will be able to scan the kitty to for a microchip, which will enable you to contact the owner if the contact information is up to date.
If reuniting the kitty with its owner is not possible because you can’t locate them or they don’t want their kitty returned, you have several options. Contact a local rescue group to see if they have “room for one more.” You may decide to bring the cat to your local humane society for potential placement. And of course, you can decide to keep or foster the cat until you can find a home through your own network of friends and family. In either case, you’ll want to be sure the cat is spayed or neutered and current on vaccinations.
Never having been socialized, feral cats have an inherent fear of people. In most cases, even if you develop a relationship with one, they will keep a safe distance. As Alley Cat Allies notes, “A feral cat is a cat who has either never had any contact with humans or her contact with humans has diminished over time. She is fearful of people and survives on her own outdoors. A feral cat is not likely to ever become a lap cat or enjoy living indoors.”
Getting feral cats fixed to avoid more unwanted cats is a priority. Since you can’t handle them, you’ll want to humanely trap them and take them to be spayed or neutered and vaccinated. Feral cats generally get a notched or tipped ear to indicate they have been fixed. After returning the cat to the area where you found them, provide them with food and water on a regular basis.
Community cats need our help to survive and to keep the numbers of homeless cats from growing even more. If you need help with stray or feral cats in your area, Whisker Warriors can provide guidance and hands-on support. Find out more at: https://www.rcwhiskerwarriors.com/oureach