Whether you are a pet owner and lover or just the fortunate soul whose yard was chosen to receive the Santa sack of kittens or even a single feral female; you now have a responsibility or big problem. Cats can begin to reproduce as early as 4 months old, and then those kittens can reproduce 4 months later and so on and so on. So you see how this could get out of control real fast. We were blessed with just such an unsolicited gift. One evening as I came home I heard what sounded like a baby crying somewhere in the bushes beside the front porch. It was so loud it could not be ignored so armed with a flashlight I went to check it out. This tiny wild kitten lay camouflaged in the bushes. She was starving. Owning an outside cat already, there is food always available so if she had been old enough to eat dry food she would have been alright, but she wasn’t. After all night of her crying loudly I decided to put some milk out for her and she quickly found it and the crying stopped. Months went by and she was still unapproachable except for food. We were going to have to do something about her since she was approaching the age to reproduce. Since we still could not get near her she might likely have a litter off somewhere and we would not be able to handle the kittens before they were feral too; then we would have a multitude of feral cats running around.
We could not afford to fix a cat that was not even ours… well, technically she was not ours. We made some calls and searched the net for programs to help with feral cats or abandoned or dumped animals to no avail. However, we did find that this is a huge problem with few solutions. We found sites that said we could trap them and take them to be spayed or neutered at our expense as a humanitarian effort. Not that we didn’t want to be good citizens but eighty to a hundred dollars per cat out of our budget was just not an option.
The local vet said we could borrow a trap, but they didn’t offer any discounted rate to share in our -humanitarian- burden either. So now we have a feral mother and 5 babies, but luckily she had them on the porch. My sweet husband – who does not love cats because he is a big dog kind of guy – spent a lot of time on the porch refusing food to these cats unless they ate it from his hand. They are “our” cats now – I guess you’d say- and they still have to be fixed or the cycle will continue to repeat itself over and over.
Finally, we contacted local shelters and got a lead for some assistance for spaying and neutering vouchers based on income. We called and left messages and after a month we got a call back. They took all our information and then asked could we afford $10 a cat? Uh yeah! We can do that. She gave us the address to send the check and said she’d call when she had the vouchers ready. A week later she called and said that she had faxed the vouchers to a vet in a nearby town and we needed to call to schedule the appointment… And not a minute too soon might I add. This past week we have had a few male cats slumming around. Monday morning 8 am they will be at the vet getting fixed. Now, we will be able to enjoy our little mousers without the worry of them continuing to rapidly multiply.
If you have some stray or feral cats show up. Please be diligent to look for options in your area to help with the huge epidemic of feral cats. Even if they got dumped on you, it is still illegal to dump them on someone else. There are programs out there that range from free to very minimal in cost. You don’t have to hand feed them and make them yours. You can fix them and find them a forever home. You can let people know you have them on social networking sites and ask if anyone interested. If they are not friendly enough to be placed as a pet for someone; please at least consider the TNR (trap/neuter/release) programs. Look locally first. Counties want to keep their resources within their own counties usually. Be persistent and be responsible. Don’t give up.You can make a difference.
Begin your search for assistance with feral cats contact:
- Local shelters or pound- most won’t take feral cats, but they might be able to point you in the right direction.
- Animal control- If you are not sure if you have one, contact your local police or county clerks office to ask what resources your city, county, or state might offer.
- Veterinary offices- you might get a lucky and find a vet that is willing to split the cost with you or offer deep discounts to spay feral cats in your area.
- Pet stores- some large pet stores have programs