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Archive for the ‘Feral cats’ Category

Winter is full of suffering for feral cats, particularly in sub-zero temperatures at night. These homeless domesticated cats by breed are not wildlife but live in the wild. If they are lucky, humans ease their plight with food, water, shelter and spay or neutering to prevent them from becoming parents.

My thinking now of helping feral cats is a turn-around from what I had been told by local animal control officers, “Don’t feed stray cats. If you do, they are yours.” My new thinking made way for some fun experiences with feral cats as I took care of them, three or so at a time for several years before the last two stopped coming to eat recently.

One cat sitting on flagstone in my back yard during the winter of 2005 helped change my thinking. It looked like it would either freeze or starve to death within the hour one snowy and bitter cold Sunday night. I couldn’t watch. I had to help.

My husband and I built a shelter from a cardboard box covered with a plastic garbage bag and put in some old towels. Because of the extreme cold, we also put in an electric heating pad under the towels. As for food since we had no cat food, we thought of the salmon fillets in the freezer.

The food for the cat was terrific, the box much better than under our shed. When the cold turned to warmth, the cat no longer needed our shelter but came back for the food. Then, we failed to see the cat for several weeks to months in the spring and early summer. When we finally did see it, it had gained weight and looked really good.

It’s a difficult situation to feed feral cats and not feed raccoons, coyotes, squirrels and wild birds. If you see feral cats in your neighborhood, establish a feeding schedule, call to them before you put out food and a little while before you bring it in. Put out water, too, and replace the ice with fresh water at feeding times. To show further care, catch the cats in traps, get them fixed and return them to the neighborhood with a commitment to feed and shelter them. These cats can be lots of fun as they develop a relationship with you.


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Feral kittens only a few weeks old huddle in a window well after falling in.


 

On a warm summer’s evening a few years ago, two feral kittens only a few weeks old fell into our window well. The well was too deep for them to get out without help. They surely cried, but it was their mother’s cries that brought help. My husband reached in with leather gloves on his hands and brought the kittens to safety. The mother cat stopped crying but gave a scolding hiss and growl at my husband for touching her babies.

Though the immediate crisis had been met, our help didn’t stop there. We took it upon ourselves to eventually catch the two kittens and a third from the litter, the mother, the father, and a few other neighborhood cats born that spring. Using a catch-neuter-return program, we caught the cats, took them in to be fixed and returned them to our back yard along with our commitment to provide food, water and shelter for them.

Feral cats are not wildlife in the true sense of the word. They are house cats abandoned or born in the wild to abandoned pets. Without human help with food, water and shelter, these cats suffer and die inhumanely. I urge others to support these feral cats among us by helping them as we do, by donating to feral cat organizations and by lobbying local governments to aid in the humane treatment of feral cats.


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