First, most important of all is to get your homeless cats spayed/neutered. Whether it is one, two or four cats that you are now feeding, please get them spayed/neutered immediately. A female cat is pregnant for only 60-64 days, AND what many people don't realize is that she can get pregnant by 5 months of age. Female cats can have up to 3 litters of kittens a year, and even get pregnant while she is still nursing. MEOW Inc can provide you with traps, carriers and all the knowledge you need to trap your cats. MEOW Inc can also help you financially to pay for the spay/neuter.
So don't wait to see if the cat gets pregnant or has kittens, get started NOW! First, assess your colony of cats. How many are there? Try to assess at least two different times of the day (early morning and just before it gets dark). Note colors and specific markings on each cat. Take pictures of each cat for your records. A good idea is to take the photo and attach to their paperwork after surgery.
All across the world, people are caring for stray and feral cats. Although roles that people choose to assume may vary, one thing remains consistent—people take great satisfaction in helping to improve the quality of life for cats. Some people carry out trapping and ensure that the cats are vetted: they may or may not be the caregivers. Others serve as both the trapper and the colony’s caregiver. In circumstances where there are several people involved who work or live in the vicinity, the cats may enjoy a team of caregivers.
If there are caregivers, they provide food and water regularly and sometimes create shelters depending on the environment and if extreme winters or summers require additional protection for the cats. The caregivers provide something else that is critical: They give the cats a voice by educating neighbors and people who work in or near the colony’s territory. Education and in some cases, mediation, is an essential aspect of Trap-Neuter-Return and colony care.
Feral cats live in all parts of the country, in about every kind of climate and habitat. They find shelter and a food source because they are opportunists. Feeding and providing shelter for feral cats allows them to peacefully co-habitate in an area. While some people welcome them for rodent control, providing nutritious food keeps them both from roaming in search of a food source and also less susceptible to disease and parasites.
Caring for a feral cat colony has tremendous benefits to caregivers, neighbors, and the cats. Though cats have been living outdoors for over 10,000 years on their own, there are steps that you as a caregiver can take to promote their well-being, make them good neighbors, and assist the people who live nearby in understanding and co-existing with the cats.
Consider sharing the following tips with other people you know who are caring for feral cats so that they too can be informed and supported. They may not be aware of all the resources that exist. Read our Trap-Neuter-Return Guide.
Basic care for feral cats can involve the following: