There are millions of
feral cats in the United States.
Feral cat population control is a difficult and emotional issue and has been a
topic of heated debate for many years. PETA has in the past trapped,
neutered, returned, and monitored feral cats (and still does, in favorable
situations) but not without hesitation and serious
concerns. Our experiences include countless incidents in which cats suffered
and died horrible deaths because they were
forced to fend for themselves outdoors, whether “managed” or not, and have led us
to question whether these programs are truly in the cats’ best interests.
cats do not die of old age. Highly contagious
diseases are common, as are infected puncture wounds, broken bones, urinary
tract infections, brain damage, internal injuries, attacks by other animals or
cruel humans, automobile accidents, and terrible living conditions like
freezing or stifling temperatures, scrounging for food, and being considered a
“nuisance,” through no fault of their own. Moreover, free-roaming cats also
terrorize and kill countless birds and other wildlife who are not equipped to
deal with such predators.
witnessed firsthand the gruesome things that can happen to feral cats and to
the animals they prey on, PETA cannot in good conscience oppose euthanasia as a
humane alternative to dealing with cat overpopulation.
situation is different, but it is never acceptable—no matter how noble the
intentions—to feed cats without providing them with medical care, vaccinations,
and spaying or neutering. Doing so would serve only to endanger the cats and
perpetuate the overpopulation crisis and its tragic consequences: the needless
deaths of millions of animals every year.
If you’ve determined that you have the time and
resources to manage a feral cat colony, and the cats are in a safe place, i.e.,
they are isolated from roads, people, and other animals and
located in an area where they do not have access to wildlife and where the
weather is temperate, please be sure to follow the following minimum
Guidelines for Managing a Feral Cat Colony
responsibilities of a feral cat colony caretaker include ensuring that all
cats in the colony are humanely captured, sterilized, vaccinated against
rabies, provided with a sanitary feeding station with fresh water and food,
given access to shelter, treated for illnesses and injuries, and accepted by
neighbors and landlords. A properly managed feral cat colony is healthy and
stable, i.e., no new kittens are born.
veterinarian with whom you can establish a good rapport and who can be somewhat
flexible—feral cats don’t always keep their appointments! Consider the costs of
what will be needed for each new cat: spaying/neutering, ear-tipping, a full
exam, ear-cleaning, a three-year rabies vaccination, deworming, and
long-lasting flea control. Estimate your budget depending on the number of cats
in the colony. Be sure that you can cover these expenses, in addition to
unexpected costs for taking care of injuries or illnesses.
notice a cat whose behavior or eating habits has changed, who has dull eyes, a
dull coat, or discharge from his or her nose or eyes, or who is lethargic—all
possible indicators of bad health—retrap the cat and take him or her to your
vet. It may help to work out a plan in advance with your vet to provide you
with antibiotics for minor health problems.
organized! Maintain veterinary records on each cat. This is where ear-tipping
becomes vital: While the cat is anesthetized for sterilization, the vet should
remove a quarter inch off the top of the cat’s left ear. This will help you
identify the cats who have been sterilized and vaccinated against rabies.
Microchipping is also a safe and effective way of tracking the cat back to you
in the event that he or she is lost.
dry sheltered spot to feed the cats, or build them a covered feeding station
(this can simply be a canopy made out of a large domed trashcan lid held up by
four wooden posts). Locate the feeding station away from sleeping and
eliminating areas. Feed roughly 5.5 oz. of canned cat food and 2 oz. of dry
food per cat each day. If the food is gone in 15 minutes, you might need to
increase rations. If there’s food remaining after an hour, put out less. To
keep bugs at bay, grease the outside of food bowls with cooking oil. Remove
uneaten food and clean the feeding station every day to prevent attracting
other wildlife or irritating human neighbors. If it’s not possible to attend to
the feeding station every day, buy automatic feeders.
water should be available at all times and kept a short distance away from the
feeding station. Cats sometimes refuse to
drink if it is too close to their food. In cold weather, place water bowls in
the sun to keep them from freezing.
colony isn’t already occupying an abandoned building, shack, or other
structure, they will need a sheltered place where they can escape the elements.
Build them a simple shelter or put an ad in the paper for used
doghouses, which can be easily modified by making the entryway cat-size and
adding insulation. Shelters must be
waterproof, windproof (in colder climates), and elevated off the ground. Use
straw or hardwood shavings for bedding (softwood shavings are toxic)—do not use
blankets or carpeting, which retain moisture. Change the bedding twice each
year, and spray or dust the shelter surface
with a non-toxic flea control product (see PETA’s factsheet “Flea Control: Safe
a Good Neighbor
local residents about your activities. Attend town meetings, write to your
local paper, and/or go door to door. Make yourself available and accessible if
questions, problems, illnesses, or injuries arise. Discourage cats from using
neighbors’ gardens and sandboxes by making your own giant litterbox with sand
in a simple covered, wooden frame. Place the sandbox away from busy
areas, the cats’ feeding station, and sleeping spots. Clean the sandbox daily.
Alley Cat Rescue (ACR)
Tomahawk Live Trap Co.
Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.