Saturday, March 23, 2013

Outdoor kittens, feral or just too much trouble?

About a year or more ago, I posted a blog about some cats that a friend of mine calls her Shed Buddies. They live in a shed on her property.  It's a large implement shed.  She has a heated water dish for them,  food and heated kennels for them to sleep in. She lives in the country and these "buddies" help take care of the mice and rats that gather around farms and veggie gardens. My friend has a large vegetable garden and welcomes the help in keeping rodents away. And she likes and take care of these cats.

A month ago, another friend of mine who has just moved to a small town, discovered a number of outdoor cats that seemed to be feral. One day a fluffy female showed up followed by three or four younger ones. She took pictures and sent them to me. Unlike my first friends Shed Buddies, these ones seem to have no permanent home. Or if they do they don't stay there very often.

This pretty calico or tortoise-shell has herself up a tree. There is a fluffy orange one that I couldn't see in the photographs, but she assures me these cats visit every day. She has been putting out food for any cats that are outside on bitter cold winter nights because she like my other friend has a tender heart,. She worries about them, because while they're not dirty or skinny and seem to be cared for, they are around her place in the most dreadful weather.

Are they feral?

She's been told they belong to a family nearby without much in the way of income. But this is not the first litter of kittens and there are three big tom cats prowling around as well. My friend wants to start a spay and neuter clinic so there won't be any more unwanted or uncared for kittens. She is a real cat lover, and has three that she has adopted over the years, two that were feral kittens, kicked out of a home.

Neither she nor I can understand why people get a pet without accepting or realizing the responsibility in caring for it. Way too many dogs and cats roam the streets of towns, villages and the countryside, abandoned and in many ways hopeless, trying to exist, to find food and shelter.

Many people think that cats can survive on their own and city dwellers are known to take their unwanted kitten to the country and drop it on the road near a barn. Better I suppose than drowning, but still in many ways certain death. Only a long and lingering one.

This is world-wide problem. But it doesn't make it any easier to understand, perhaps it makes it more difficult. Like many people who have multiple pets I don't get this lack of caring. If you have a female cat and it isn't spayed (neutered) it's going to get pregnant if it's outside. That's just a fact. If you have a male cat and it isn't neutered - it's going to increase the population - that's nature.

So while I can't solve this one, I am adding my voice to those who are trying to solve it. Please help the free or nearly free spay and neuter clinics in your area. Mostly they are for feral cats. But some vets understand these problems, and will help people by taking payment for spaying and neutering over a period of time. Please support them. Please also support your cat and dog rescue organizations in your neighbourhood. They take care of the health of so many abandoned and unwanted cats and dogs. They do their best to find them homes. So if you're looking for a pet - please remember another friend of mine's slogan - "Don't breed or buy while shelter pets die." She was writing about kill-shelters.

In the meantime, let's hope these little kittens can survive without reproducing themselves, and that if they have an owner, that owner will take them to prevent more wandering kittens.  I wish I had a gazillion dollars I'd be doing some massive education and helping the people who run the free clinics.

Cute kitties aren't they?


  1. There was a feral cat that lived around here for the last 5 years. He dodged fishers, owls, fox, coyotes, and other predators all the while feeding himself even through tough winters. I haven't seen him this year so I presume it was predated. This cat would not come near humans. You could tell by watching it that wild and free were its middle name. It had real survival skills and I admired its abilities. Still, most cats (and dogs) are not this lucky and do not have the necessary skills to survive. I've contributed to animal rescue and care programs in the past and am reminded by this post to do it again. Thank you.

    1. There are several feral cats around here - two or three have managed to survive for four or five years, but I worry when the winters are tough. They too are terrified of humans and very skilled at finding food...They are the bane of my two dogs existence of course. Thanks for stopping by Bill.

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