It’s better to feed one cat than many mice.” -Norwegian Proverb
Cats that live outside are called feral cats and a colony is a group of feral cats living together. Right now, we have a colony of cats living outside our home. I want to share what I’ve learned about adopting and caring for them.
In 2012, I saw a feral cat outside several times near our home and decided to give her some food. I soon discovered that she was going to have kittens. Her babies are Sunny and Rosemary. We took them to the vet for a check-up and to spay or neuter them. Sasha is still feral even though we can pet her a little. We can’t pick her up, so if she needs to go to the vet we have to use a live trap.
Sunny and Rosy are partially domestic because I played with them outside since they were kittens. We can easily pick them up and put them in their travel cage to go to the vet. They come inside sometimes for treats or a break from the winter weather. They don’t like to stay inside for too long even when it’s cold out. I have tried to keep them inside during the messiest weather but they will sit by the door and cry until someone lets them back out. I don’t worry about them anymore because sometimes I even see Rosy playing in the snow. They seem content outside in any weather because that’s all they know. We are lucky to have a set up for them that works out nicely. We have a cat house and other warm places for them to sleep.
It is possible to tame and domesticate a feral cat. One option if you see a cat outside is to adopt them. You bring them inside and basically train them like a kitten. I would take them to the vet right away for a check up and treat them for fleas. I would keep them in a room with everything they need until they adjust. Then slowly let them venture out into the rest of the house and introduce them to any other pets. I would play with them frequently and give them treats until they are more comfortable over time. Eventually they will become part of the family and enjoy living inside. I did this with our one inside cat we adopted from a litter of kittens 16 years ago when we lived in the city. I didn’t know as much about cats back then as I do now.
My husband found our white cat, Bubba, in a house he was hired to work on. Bubba was all by himself in a box, only weeks old, and his eyes were still closed. When hubby brought him home, I bottle fed him and he grew into a wonderful addition to our family. We love our cats like family and enjoy all the funny things they do. They really do leave pawprints on our hearts.
Some other things to do for a feral cat are feed them and try to become friendly with them to see if you can take them to the vet. The best thing you can do for them is have them spayed or neutered right away because one female cat can have a lot of kittens. Then either adopt them or return them to living outside. You can either continue to feed them or find someone else willing to look out for them. It’s called trap, spay or neuter, and return. There are shelters and vet clinics that can lend out live traps for the cats that can’t easily be picked up and handled.
You can find more information by asking someone at a local shelter or vet clinic. Or visit- Alley Cat Allies A website where you can find plans to build a cat house and more info on helping the feral cats in your neighborhood. I couldn’t find the instructions to the house hubby built above, but there are a lot more ideas here- Feral Cat Shelter Options
“You will always be lucky if you know how to make friends with a strange cat.” – Colonial American Proverb