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Want to learn more about feral cats? Need help dealing with a colony?
They sleep in our parks, alleyways, farmyards, and deserted buildings. Abandoned by their human families or simply lost, unsterilized housecats eventually band together in groups called colonies. Without human contact, the colonies eventually become feral. Mothers teach their kittens to avoid humans and to defend themselves. And their numbers steadily increase, even if meager scraps are all the food to be had.
No one knows exactly how many feral cats live in the United States, but the number is estimated in the tens of millions. They are often wrongly portrayed as disease-ridden nuisances living tragic lives and responsible for endangering native species. As a consequence, feral feline communities too frequently are rounded up and killed.
But removing and killing feral cats does not reduce feral cat populations. It only provides space for more cats to move in and start the breeding process again. Unspayed, feral female cats spend most of their lives pregnant and hungry, as will the female kittens that survive. Unneutered tomcats roam to find, and fight to win, mates, and often suffer debilitating wounds in the process. Half of all kittens born in feral colonies die within their first year.
Many methods of managing feral cats exist including (1) doing nothing and letting starvation, disease, and fighting control the population; (2) trapping and killing cat colonies, and (3) trapping, sterilizing, and returning feral cats to their environment (called trap-neuter-return, or TNR).
There is a growing body of evidence supporting TNR as the humane way to reduce feral cat populations. In addition to reducing the number of feral cats, nuisance behaviors associated with breeding, such as the yowling of females or the spraying of males, are virtually eliminated. Disease and malnutrition are greatly reduced. The cats live more healthy and more peaceful lives in their territories. For more information on what you can do to help, see the information to the left. (Adapted from Alley Cat Allies, Inc.)
Suffolk Humane Society’s stance on free roaming cats is that friendly cats or kittens should be removed from the wild and placed into homes through Animal Care Center. We would elect educating the public and providing low cost or free spaying/neutering to ensure owned cats remain on the owners property and do not reproduce.
For feral cat information and/or assistance in Suffolk, please contact us.