(material provided by Forgotten Felines of Sonoma County)
There are three classifications of feral cats:
Feral cats are unowned wild cats, often offspring of abandoned, unfixed domesticated cats. They may form colonies near a source of food. Feral cats will breed and overpopulate very quickly if their numbers are not controlled by spaying and neutering. In many cases feral cats perform a welcome service in the form of natural rodent control, and are often appreciated by livestock owners and farmers. However, it's still strongly advisable to keep the population under control and prevent unwanted litters of kittens. Even if the kittens are caught and tamed and rehomed, there are always many, many more cats in our county shelters waiting to be adopted, therefore the first choice should be to prevent more babies from being born.
What is a feral colony?
A colony is a group of cats that congregate in a specific location. This usually occurs due to a consistent source of food, such as a dumpster behind a restaurant, a barn/field full of mice, a natural body of water, etc.
What is a caretaker?
The caretaker is the person who takes responsibility for feeding, providing clean water and monitoring the cats for health problems.
Is there a difference between a colony in my backyard and a colony in a commercial or public area?
Somewhat. Whether the colony of cats is in a residential neighborhood, on rural property, or near a business, the same basic guidelines apply. If you want to trap/neuter/release (TNR) feral cats to prevent overpopulation, you should either trap exclusively on your own property, or with the property owner's permission. If it's your backyard, ranch, or business, there is no problem. However if the colony is residing on someone else's property it's best to get their participation and/or agreement with your trapping arrangements. Keep in mind that the smaller the property, the more chance that the cats will roam outside the property boundary and have an effect on neighboring residences or businesses. The more cats there are, the more "above the radar" they will be to the neighborhood. Controlling the population by spaying and neutering makes for good neighbor relations!
Will SNAP Cats remove a feral cat from my back yard if I don't want it to stay there?
Only in emergency situations. Relocating a feral cat can be a difficult process. We can, however, provide Safe Relocation Guidelines if you are interested in attempting this. First you have to find a willing homeowner and a safe location. Removing a cat from its established territory is only done as a last resort and only if a safe relocation site is available. Once that relocation site is found, the feral cat must be caged for four weeks at the new site so it can become accustomed to the sights, sounds and smells of its new home. In addition, a regular feeding pattern is established. This is the only motivating factor to encourage the cat to stay at its new home. Please contact us for more information regarding relocation. Ultimately, if at all possible, the better choice is to leave the cat where it is, after altering the cat to prevent the undesirable behavior.
What local services are available to assist the public with feral cats?
Local shlters can provide (rent) you traps. Once trapped you return the trap and feral cat to that shelter. It's very traumatic for the feral to be trapped, removed from its environment, then stuck in a cage at a shelter until a barn home is found for it.
Therefore, SNAP Cats recommends Forgotten Felines. They provide several low-cost spay/neuter clinics per month for feral cats. They loan traps when needed (as available) for people using their clinics. With more than 20 years experience, Forgotten Felines is considered to be feral cat experts. They can offer guidance, information and support for people trying to control a cat population, as well as taming feral kittens, deterring unwanted behavior, feeding guidelines, and, of course, trapping. Forgotten Felines staff and volunteers have a wealth of knowledge to share regarding taming feral kittens, deterrence of unwanted behavior, feeding guidelines, and, of course, trapping. They are standing by to help get you started with managing your colony. Call them to sign up for a clinic - 707.576.7999.