"I was wondering if you could do a little something extra for us?" a client asked me. The woman, named Cathy, had finished introducing her two pet cats, and now looked concerned about asking a favor. "We've been feeding a feral cat," she continued, "and hoped you could do so while we're away." She called the cat Honey, and was very concerned about his health and well being. Taking me outside, Cathy was happy to find Honey peering around the corner of the garage as we discussed his care. I said I would be glad to feed Honey and give him his daily cat vitamin.
Honey was not the first feral cat I've cared for. There are many feral cats throughout the country in need of understanding and attention. Today is the ten year anniversary of National Feral Cat Day, founded by Alley Cat Allies to promote the care of feral cats living without a human family. Here are a few facts about feral cats:
*Feral cats aren't the same thing as stray cats. Feral cats are born in the wild.
*As feral cats aren't socialized to humans, they can be difficult, if not impossible, to tame. It has been done however. Kittens are easier to acclimatize to humans if caught young enough.
*Feral cats live in large complex groups called colonies. Mother cats often sit each others kittens.
*Surprisingly, feral cats are healthy and happy.
*As animal control services almost always kill captured cats, it's advised not to call them.
Alley Cat Allies promote the Trap-Neuter-Return program. Neutering and returning stops disruptive fighting, caterwauling, the birth of new kittens and improves the overall health of the cats. Disneyland has employed Trap-Neuter-Return with great success. So have many collage campuses with Cats on Campus. Here is a link to Rhode Island's pawswatch.org, a volunteer network working towards the well-being of feral cats.
Though I don't have a photograph of Honey to show you, he looked a great deal like the black kitty in the picture above. Sadly, Honey disappeared one day and was never seen again. My client and I often wonder what became of him. So on National Feral Cat Day, remember the wild cats around us, and think what you can do to help. The cats would appreciate it.