No, it won’t be preprinted on your calender, but if you are in the business of saving animals, you know that this is the day to begin your campaign to raise awareness, educate the public and work to improve the lives of feral cats everywhere. You don’t have to be a animal rescuer per se, or have any affiliation with a shelter or rescue organization in order to be involved in this campaign. All you need is belief and dedication to the cause and be willing to do something about it. However, not all cat lovers know the difference between a stray and a feral cat.
Stray cats are those who have been lost or abandoned. Many will seek out human contact and can be re-socialized into a home environment and become adoptable. Stray cats can be taken to a shelter, where they will be cared for until they are adopted, assuming the cat is sociable and adoptable. Still, a stray cat that has been living outside for quite sometime, with no human contact, can turn feral.
Feral cats are those who may have been a stray at some point in its life or those who have been born into the life of a feral colony. These cats want nothing to do with humans and it’s very hard, if not impossible, to tame them. These cats will often form a colony near a food source and continue to breed and expand in their numbers. Feral cats are not adoptable and are usually the first to be put to sleep in shelters.
There are several ways you can be a part of National Feral Cat Day. You can support Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) in your community. This is the most humane way to handle feral cat colonies. With TNR, cats will be trapped, altered and returned to the area. Undesirable behavior will be averted and no more kittens will be born. As the TNR method is implemented, the feral cat numbers will gradually decline.
Become a feral colony caretaker. Provide food and clean water to the cats to prevent them from rummaging through trash cans and so they will have the nutrients they need to stay healthy and build a strong immune system to help fight off sickness and disease. I’m not saying that feral cats have diseases, but a healthy immune system is very important to protect them from the elements and dangers of living outside.
Provide a make shift shelter. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just a warm place to curl up on a cold winter night and shelter from the rain. No animal deserves to be left out in the rain or snow. Just remember, all animals lives have value, regardless if they have an owner or not.
If you would like to be involved in TNR, most animal controls, shelters and organizations would be able to loan you a humane trap, but often with so many requests, there can be a long waiting list. You can call around and see what’s available or you can purchase your own humane traps, prices range from $19.99 to $59.99 depending on the size. There are five different sizes available.
Personally, I prefer to own a trap, that way it’s always there when you need it. If you need further help on TNR or would like to adopt a previously stray or abandoned cat, call your local animal shelter or search www.petfinder.com.
Alley Cat Allies is a great source of information and education of feral cats and TNR. This is a must read website for cat lovers www.alleycat.org.