Early Morning Open Thread: National Feral Cats Day

From commentor Mary R:

October 16 is National Feral Cat Day (yes, there is such a thing) so here are three members of a colony I feed: Twinkletoes and her kittens Jip and Tort.
I discovered Twinkletoes about four years ago while running in the Marble Hill area of New York City. She was huddled with another white and black cat in a pile of trash near the railroad tracks between 225th Street and the Harlem River. They were skinny and I wasn’t sure if they were strays, throwaways, or feral, so I started bringing food every morning. Soon I discovered a small group of 5 or 6 cats in the area and evidence that other people were feeding them too. It became clear that they all were feral, too old to socialize, and not adoptable, so the best course of action was to trap, neuter and return (“TNR”) them to their habitat. Neighborhood Cats, an organization dedicated to helping feral cats in New York, put me in touch with cat trapper extraordinaire Jamie, who lives in the area. After taking a class in TNR at the ASPCA, I helped Jamie trap the entire colony in 2007-8. (Before we were able to get Twinkletoes, she had a litter of four kittens, two of whom survived.)
There are now 5 remaining cats. They’re all healthy and shiny and have outlived the average for cats in the wild. They eat as well as the cats who live with me. There are four other wonderful ladies who bring food and water regularly: Jamie, Virginia, Rita and Leslie, all of whom deserve a huge thanks. And for anyone who comes in contact with feral cats, or who is just interested, here’s a link to an organization that has spearheaded the TNR effort: Alley Cat Allies.

(Note from Anne Laurie: Eavesdropping on the local TNR newsgroup introduced me to the wonderful term “shadow cat” — now I have a nicer name for the two ex-ferals who live with us. Shadow cats are those who are human-acclimated enough to become housecats, but who aren’t and may never be “pets” in the fullest sense. They are happy to have a safe, warm, food-secure territory; they will interact with other cats within that territory, but their reaction to humans ranges from “hide under the furniture until you put the food down and goes away” to “okay, maybe you can pet me… sometimes… and perhaps after some years of unthreatening non-interference I may even come sit in your lap, if you’re quiet, but don’t push me.” I think most cat people have probably had at least one “shadow cat” in their lives.)

53 replies
  1. 1
    Donna says:

    This is tremendous. Thank you for posting. We have 3 feral cats who eat (and often just hang out) on our porch every day. We were just last night pondering the whole “how to get them to the doc to get neutered” issue.

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  4. 4
    Keith G says:

    Thanks Mary.

  5. 5
    KyCole says:

    I have one of those shadow cats, although I call her cave cat since she won’t leave the basement. She hates dogs (I have two), so I go down and feed and water her and clean out her boxes, and some days she’ll come out long enough for me to brush her for a bit. My ex-husband brought her to me last year when he found her wandering around his yard.

  6. 6
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    I have a former feral sleeping on a heating pad under my chair right now. She was a ‘rescue’ but was captured as a ‘jetty cat’ here on the Oregon coast. She was about six months old and scared to death of humans. Nobody could handle her and nobody wanted her since she was as anti-social as a cat can get. It took me almost a year but she is a garage cat now and is living a happy life. Unfortunately she is a Manx (x-ray confirmed, missing one vertebrae) that was born with Manx Syndrome which includes fecal-incontinence.

    I am the only one in our house that she will let pick her up though my wife is finally able to pet her when she is relaxed and sunning herself outside. She has arthritis in her back end and is slowing down a bit, thus the heating pad. She’s the Serious Cat and not really playful with humans though she and her roommate buddy Freddy get into boxing matches on occasion. She’s really a sweetheart and while she’s not really into the human world she has carved out a small niche for herself in it.

    According to the vet, she probably won’t live much beyond 4-5 years but I intend on making them the best years she can have.

  7. 7

    Thanks for the info. Does anyone know about any of these organizations in Maryland? I’m about to go feed the family of five that lives near by. I had hopes of adopting at least one of the kittens born earlier this year but they learned to fear giant hairless apes from their mother and have always been super skittish.

    However they do now charge up to me screaming when I come bearing the daily offering, and they’ll hang out in the house of the family next door (who also feed them) provided nobody moves.

    Frankly, I think these cats have just figured out they can do WtFTW and some dumb hominid will still feed them.

  8. 8
    JPL says:

    @stuckinred: One size doesn’t fit all. Is there a problem with students who leave for the summer dumping strays in Athens?
    There are a few feral cats in my neighborhood. Our houses back up to a wooded area and the cats don’t pose a problem.
    My yard is fenced and the cats prowl around at night. After Miss Moxie treed a cat one morning, I now go out with her to warn the cat/cats.

  9. 9
    Mudge says:

    I listened to a talk by a naturalist a week back who spoke of the wonderful, and often unique, wildlife in the Appalachian Mountains. He declared, unequivocally, that the most dangerous introduced species in that ecosystem is the feral cat. I was surprised by his visceral dislike of them. They can be quite devastating.

  10. 10
    WereBear says:

    Alley Cat Allies do awesome work. If you have some spare coin this morning, give it to them!

    What do you do with feral cats? They aren’t very adoptable, so the traditional happy ending beloved of rescuers is not in the picture. It’s a rare person with the room in their heart and their basement to take on a “shadow cat.” And they really need cats around them; these are the social creatures they trust.

    Giving them the best possible life is feeding them in their territory and altering them so the colony dies a natural death. In the best of all possible worlds, there would be no feral cats; unsupported, their lives are nasty, brutish, and short.

    When we first took on Tristan at 3 weeks after he was found in a field, I worried he might have feral tendencies, and we’d wind up with a shadow cat.

    But as seen here, it’s obvious he loves humans.

  11. 11
    BDR says:

    If you live in the DC area, please support Metro Ferals:


    We had a feral give birth to three kittens in our shed three years ago and they’ve been living there since. Metro Ferals helped us trap them, have them spayed and neutered plus given all shots for $50 each plus cropped ears to identify them as fixed. Mom still won’t let us near her, but the daughter and two sons are a joy, and one, Napoleon, comes in and out of the house and is a wonder cat.

  12. 12
    Cat Lady says:

    I have three ferals, used to be four until the fourth came in and has become my awesome sweet beloved Woody. They were all born in the woodpile on my property, and it took some doing but the females have been captured and spayed (TNR), and Woody, a male, has been neutered. One of the females, Pokey, has a dilemma – she can’t fully bring herself to let herself come in like Woody, so she sits on our front step and watches us through the door every. single. day. When I try to coax her in, probably 4 or 5 times a day, she can only let herself get her head and front paws in the door, then she weirds out and has to lick herself, which we call Must. Lick. Self. I have fed them all twice a day for 5 years now, and they still run away and hide every time, although the range of “gifts” they leave me is pretty awesome, if awesome means horrifying.

  13. 13
    WereBear says:

    @Cat Lady: Isn’t it amazing how some ferals will cuddle up? One out of four is a pretty solid guideline, and you have more than that, percentagewise.

    I wonder if it’s genetic as much as socialization; you can take a feral litter, barely able to walk, and socialize them as much as you can, and some will still have nothing to do with people.

    Though I think they are grateful for the care.

  14. 14
    keestadoll says:

    My quasi-feral is “Bob,” cleverly named by me because of his bobbed tail. He jetted away from me at first, but now sits on my lap. After a few months of interaction, I was able to get him into a carrier and to a vet for a course of basic inoculations. He was very tolerant of the whole thing. My deck is his home base and I only feed him a little cat food each morning. To thank me, he patrols our field and brings back at least three mice a day, the odd sparrow, and when he’s really on his game, a mole. Love that cat. Oh, and he’s fixed!

  15. 15
    Cat Lady says:


    I consider Pokey to be half of a victory, and I think I’m going to finally get her to come in this winter which would really up the average. The other two are hopeless – they’re both black and identical, and I call them Pete and Pete (like the brothers in the old Nickelodeon show), although one’s a girl, so she’s Petey. They all hunker down somewhere on my property, but I’ve never found their spot, so I can only assume it’s satisfactory since they’ve made it through some very severe weather. Woody is just a different creature – I’ve always believed in reincarnation, and that cat is on his way back to being a human. The first week he was in the house, he needed to see what was in every drawer, every closet, etc. He totally got “it”. If he had thumbs, he’d be cooking his own dinner and making tools to hunt the turkeys out in the back field.

  16. 16
    RoonieRoo says:

    Sasha is our former shadowcat. She moved in under our house many years ago. You has the notch in her in that shows that she was caught by our local Trap-Neuter-Release program. She was about 3 years old and feral.

    It took us about a month to coax her inside our house to become a part of our family. Once there, it took about another year before we could pet her.

    She still has to be gassed down in order to have an annual exam. Nobody can touch her but us so our vet has us do the “annual” as best we can and then we wait for the serious stuff when she needs a teeth cleaning.

    But 5 years later, she is in bed with Grumpy Code Monkey for a late morning sleep in and she’s never more than a couple of feet away to a hand that is willing to pet and love on her. Our shadowcat turned into the biggest snuggler ever and demands her lap time non-stop.

  17. 17
    Woodrowfan says:

    We have three ferals who have been TNRed thanks to Ally Cat Allies. Ally Cat Allies does great work! Now they live on our deck (the cats, not AAA). One tries to come inside sometimes but

    a) we have 2 (rescued) dogs, one of which is not cat friendly
    b) my wife is VERY allergic

    But two of them like to rub against our legs and purr and they like to sit on our kitchen windowsill and watch us.

    I’m wondering if I should get some sort of heating pad to put inside their cat shelter, which is next to our deck, for the winter….

    BTW, I am told wet food is better for them in cold weather as it takes less energy to digest. I warm it up a tad in the microwave first…

  18. 18
    One Hand Clapping says:

    Feral cats are destructive pests that should be eliminated. They totally disrupt ecosystems and kill large numbers of native wild animals. Feeding them is foolish. It doesn’t reduce their predation, it only gives them a reliable food supply so they may multiply.

    Calling animal control or, if jurisdictions permit, shooting them is the best response. Many rare and threatened species of wild native animals would thank you if they could.

  19. 19
    Alex says:

    I’m a cat person. Naturally, that inclines me to like feral cats as well. But they do tremendous damage to native bird populations, and if I had to chose I’d go with the wildlife. Feral cats should be caught & neutered whenever possible, and punishments should be strict for people who irresponsibly release cats to the wild.

  20. 20
    Bubba Dave says:


    and punishments should be strict a shotgun blast to the face for people who irresponsibly release cats to the wild.


  21. 21
    comrade scott's agenda of rage says:

    My wife and I are another couple who’ve done some work with Ally Cat Allies before. Great people.

    There’s something extra special about dealing with ferals. I worked with em down in New Orleans right after Katrina. We mostly tamed one here but he was never totally domesticated but it was the most rewarding cat experience of my life.

    Thanks for highlighting today and this story.

  22. 22
    Mnemosyne says:

    I’ve heard of an interesting strategy with established feral colonies where they do a vasectomy on the adult males instead of neutering them. That way, they still protect “their” females from being impregnated by other males, but they can’t actually produce more kittens, so you end up with fewer ferals overall.

    We don’t seem to have many (if any) ferals in our neighborhood, probably because we have coyotes.

  23. 23
    comrade scott's agenda of rage says:

    Also, the entire “feral cats are devastating to certain wildlife populations” is very controversial and the data supporting such assertions has been questioned.

    The Washington Post of all corporate media whores ran an extensive piece on this recently. It’s not all black and white.

    Moreover, urban/suburban feral colonies, if managed (TNRed, fed, etc) apparently don’t feast on birds, for example, the way the broad brush assertions about feral cats would lead one to believe. Furthermore, they’re eating sparrows. I don’t think we hafta worry much about sparrows.

    I’ve also seen ferals (not colonies) aplenty out here in East Bumfuck Misery. They don’t live long lives because of disease and, quite frankly, coyotes. If they snag a cardinal or three before they go, I don’t begrudge them that.

  24. 24
    WereBear says:

    @Alex: Actually… that’s not true.

    It turns out the biggest threat to birds is from rodents who eat their eggs. When cats are hunted down and killed, rodent population explodes, and then birds suffer. As discovered on Marion Island in the South Indian Ocean.

    Please don’t repeat this myth anymore; it hurts birds and cats.

  25. 25
    Patrick says:

    Trap and neuter feral cats; adopt them too. But feeding feral cats is unethical. Even aside from the environmental damage; you are going to make that cat reliant on you. So, if you are going to start feeding it, you will have to feed it forever, so you might as well adopt it. If the cat is not adoptable, put it down. That is the nicest thing you could do for it and the environment.

    Nobody thinks it is a good idea to feed feral pigs. There is no argument, other than they are “cuter”, that would lead to the logical conclusion that feeding feral cats is ok but feral pigs is not.

  26. 26

    Awwwww! They are beautiful. And, I like the term shadow cat. Keep these stories coming, AL!

  27. 27
    vaux-rien says:


    Do you have a cite for that? Because I find it really hard to believe that any non-native predator species could really be benign. I guess since the rodents are also invaders we have an old lady who swallowed a fly situation?

  28. 28
    2th&nayle says:

    One of the most facinating things I ever watched in the wild was the way two feral cat sisters protected their kittens from a marading racoon. Both of the sister cats had hatched their kits in the hollow of a tree and when the racoon approached, one sister ran and got into the hollow with the kittens and the other went out to face the coon. They were of equal size (about 5-6lbs) and I thought “this ain’t even going to be close”, thinking the coon had the advantage. Wrongo! They went 3 rounds snarling and screaming, hair flying in every direction. After the third round the coon had had enough and retired to the brush. The mama cat limped, bleeding and sporting bald patches, over to the den tree and traded places with the home guard cat who went on patrol to apparently make sure the racoon was gone for good. Never saw that coon again, but the mama cat appeared to recover in full. One day soon after, I went to check on them and they were all gone, lock, stock, and door knobs. I never saw them again and they never used that tree for a den again so far as I could tell. The whole episode reminded me of something you might see their bigger cousins do on the Seregeti Plains. Like I said, “Facinating!”

  29. 29
    Alex says:


    I’ll buy that the cat/bird relation is controversial. But it certainly isn’t a “myth”:

    Cat predation affects bird populations

    Plus, you can’t seriously expect to extrapolate an island study (with completely different bird species) to mainland populations. Islands are notoriously weird.

  30. 30
    scarshapedstar says:

    I’m sorry, but I really despise stand people who feed feral cats. If you like them so much, adopt them. Otherwise you are being selfish and immoral and creating a public health risk. I don’t care how sweet a little old cat lady you are… I cannot respect you.

    We used to have a guy down the street who fed feral cats. It was not at all uncommon to see dead kittens lying in the street, because there were always about a dozen of them running around the neighborhood. Also, we have two 15-year-old neutered male cats (read: ACTUAL PETS THAT WE CARE ABOUT) both of whom would be frequently attacked by these nameless feral toms, resulting in abscesses that would run up hundreds or thousands of dollars in vet bills. One of them in particular, the bigger scrappier one, almost died. Our dog also turned up one day with blood all over his fur and a godawful stench, turned out that he’d just popped a big abscess that nobody had noticed for god knows how long.

    So we were forced to keep the cats inside all the time. These are old cats, and one is rather senile, so naturally they would piss and shit in odd places from time to time.

    Around this time we began nicely asking the neighbor if he would stop feeding the wild cats, because they were coming onto our property and attacking our animals, as well as costing us about a hundred times more money than it was costing him to dump cat food on in a big bowl on his lawn.

    He refused.

    So we started trapping the cats, and we got a couple, and it became quite clear that these were genetically different from your average pet cat. They wouldn’t make a sound while they were stuck in the trap, but if you got close enough they would try to take your finger off. There was no local service that would neuter or euthanize them for a reasonable price, so we were faced with killing these cats ourselves or just driving them several miles away and dropping them next to the marsh where they would hopefully be eaten by alligators. So we chose the latter.

    Anyway, trapping cats is very slow going, and we caught our own cats more than the bad ones. I love cats but I love mine a lot more than these fucking wild animals that the guy quite clearly didn’t care if they lived or died. I was plotting to poison the food, and… he moved away. Now his son’s there, he doesn’t feed cats, and they all disappeared in about a week. And now our cats can be outside cats again, the rugs are safe, and none of our animals have bite or claw marks.

    So for you feral cat people, I want you to understand a few things.

    The first is that these cats do not like you. They are not your pets, and they will never be anyone’s pet. They are not genetically domesticable; this is a trait which is lost in a matter of two or three generations. If you stop feeding them, they will find someone else who will.

    The second is that these cats don’t need you. These are arguably the most highly adapted land predators on the planet. There are MORE than enough small woodland creatures for them to eat. The fact that they eat the big pile of food you put out does not prove that every single one of them is starving and you’ve saved all of their lives. It proves that cats are smart enough to eat free food. Now, if you are a real hardcore cat farmer and they start breeding, then you might end up with a situation where you have a bunch of fucked-up cats who never learn to hunt and end up dependent on human food — but they still hate people. And this brings me to my last point.

    The third point is that these cats are a PUBLIC HEALTH RISK. They are aggressive and have not been vaccinated against rabies. They will attack other animals, and I could certainly envision one of them attacking a curious small child. Many of them have been conditioned to expect human food even though they will not tolerate human contact.

    Please just feed your pets. You wouldn’t feed a bear, and you shouldn’t feed any other wild animal, and — despite looking like Fluffy — that’s what feral cats are.

  31. 31
    cckids says:

    We have a good TNR policy here in Clark County NV. I regularly find people caring for colonies in some very unexpected places.

    My favorite “feral” cat is Boxer. (sorry, no pics, but he’s an adorable grey & white young man) He was born to a long-time cat colony that lives in a bushy area by a flood-control culvert (filled with tallish grass & weeds). Boxer is different because he’s found a human. I’ll call him Bob for today. He also lives in the culvert, in the covered end where it is shady & sheltered from the sun & the winds. He’s been there, or around there for at least 3 years. The studio where my son studies martial arts is very close; the owner (& several parents) have gotten to know Bob, he hangs out when classes are not in session. I don’t know if Bob is truly homeless by choice, but he asserts that he is. He’s intelligent, funny, friendly. Earlier this year, he found Boxer, whose mother is a new member of the colony (she was caught & neutered after that litter). Alone among the kittens, Boxer is very people friendly. He made Bob’s acquaintance, & now they are inseparable. Its a scream to see Bob call him & watch the little head pop up out of the tall grass & come running. He rides around on top of Bob’s backpack, watching the world. An unusual & not perfect pairing, but to me, it is very cool to see that the two of them have found each other. A bit of softness in a hard life.

  32. 32

    We feed the ferals in our yard, but we also trap and fix them so they’re not reproducing. We also trap and fix any neighbor cats who wander into our yard who snack on the food we leave out, so we’re doing what we can to limit the population in our neighborhood. We’ve fixed 13 cats in the last 15 months, and we’ve adopted or adopted out 4 of them. None of the others will get close enough for us to even attempt that.

    And here’s what’s happened in our yard as a result. We rarely hear cats fighting and we haven’t seen a new litter in our yard in months now. (The first three we trapped, fixed and adopted out were a mother and two kittens.) We have songbirds again, doves, bluejays. In the evenings, raccoons and possums come out to visit. This is in Fort Lauderdale, mind you, not in the boonies somewhere.

    There’s still a feral problem in our neighborhood, and in the long run the relative handful of cats we’ve fixed might not make a difference to the overall population, but we’ve made a difference to those cats, and that’s all we can do. Our choice was to either watch these animals live miserable lives and continue to breed or take steps to end the population cycle and then care for them as much as they’ll let us. We chose the latter.

  33. 33

    @scarshapedstar: You are right that simply feeding stray or feral cats leads to problems, but the problems you list are all good arguments for TNR. Neutering means no more kittens. It stabilizes the population, which studies have shown actually leads to a reduction over time. It eliminates sexual activity, like fighting and spraying. The process also means the ferals are inoculated for rabies and other diseases. TNR programs encourage regular care. Each person who commits to such a program takes on the responsibility of providing food and shelter and monitors the colony.

  34. 34
    comrade scott's agenda of rage says:

    @John – A Motley Moose:

    This. And said much more succinctly and politely than I could muster after seeing the post it’s responding to which is simply a rehash of all the myths used by people who object to TNR as a core part of responsible feral colony management.

  35. 35

    I discovered my new house came with some feral cats. I was planning on trapping them, but they seem to have moved to one of my neighbors. They don’t come looking for food even though I still see them around on occasion. I’m thinking of going knocking on doors until I find who is feeding them. Maybe I can convince them to help me trap and neuter them.

    This isn’t my first encounter with ferals. I wrote a story about one I befriended some years ago. This thread seems like a perfect place to share that story. I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from cat lovers who have read it. I’m sure some of you will enjoy reading it – http://www.jonra.com/whitecat1.html

    It is also available as an e-book (pdf) – http://www.jonra.com/ebooks.html

  36. 36
    WereBear says:

    @vaux-rien: Lessons learned from devastating effects of cat eradication on Macquarie Island

    Not that cat don’t hunt birds; they do. But mainly they eat rodents, and studies in Britain and elsewhere show that birds are actually a small amount of any cat’s diet.

    As seen in my own blog post:
    Do Cats Kill Songbirds?

  37. 37
    losingtheplot says:

    I live in a semi-rural area near a city, and cats are ‘dumped’ pretty regularly in our territory. Many get adopted, or at least find employment as farm cats, keeping mice down. But there was one that used to come into my garden who was like a shadow, only ever seen at dawn and dusk, for years. I almost thought I’d imagined him. Finally he must’ve become old and ill and started to accept some human contact: we filled a laundry basket with blankets and fleeces and put it under an old tiny trailer in the backyard and he slept in that. He wouldn’t let me stroke him, and he couldn’t come in my house because I had a great bruiser of a cat who would’ve shredded him, but Mr Homeless (who I called Brindle) was content to be outside in the elements getting fed. But what broke my heart was the day I brought out a hairbrush and showed it to him, and he knew exactly what it was: he walked up to it and started rubbing his face and flanks against it, getting the first good fur massage he’d probably had in years, and I just felt such rage against the people who’d abandoned him. He still wouldn’t let me pet him, but he loved that hairbrush. He collapsed later that year, and we took him to the vet, who euthanized him – Brindle’s kidneys had basically disintegrated. We buried him in a beautiful spot, and my big old bruiser was buried next to him a couple of years later.

  38. 38
    WereBear says:

    @losingtheplot: That story made me tear up.

    Some are born feral, some are made feral, and some have feral thrust upon them. I know it’s anthropromorphic of me but so be it: cats can have their hearts broken, and some of them can never trust again.

  39. 39
    scarshapedstar says:

    @comrade scott’s agenda of rage:

    Myths? Oh so you’re saying I made all that up?

    Seriously. Fucking feral cats tried to kill my pets. It wasn’t goddamn possums. We would see them in the yard at night.

    Explain to me where the myth lies. I can link you a picture of my black cat, Spooky, with a nice big claw/bite mark on his neck after the vets lanced and shaved it.

    You are correct in that I live an area where there is no feral cat program; I specifically mentioned that in my post. I would certainly support the expansion of these programs.

    But I am not fortunate enough to live an area that has one. I do not get the warm fuzzies when I think about people feeding feral cats. I think about Spooky, lying motionless for days with a fever while we held him and fed him antibiotics.

    Spooky, incidentally, was a cat who showed up at the door in December looking cold and hungry and we took him in. He was pretty clearly socialized and abandoned, not born wild.

    We’ve had him 15 years now and love him dearly, but he’s actually part of the family. He’s not some wild cat that shows up to eat food and hisses at anything with two legs, just like any other wild animal.

  40. 40
    scarshapedstar says:


    Okay, maybe this is where the disconnect lies. There is a very clear and demonstrable difference between animals that are domesticable and animals that are not. Fear of humans is a hereditary trait; it’s that simple.

    You cannot catch a wolf in the woods and treat it like a dog. You cannot take a feral cat and bring it into your house and expect it to settle down. Most animals are not pets by nature, and that’s that.

    You can selectively breed animals to become tamer over many generations, as was obviously done with dogs and, perhaps most deliberately, with the silver fox.


    But this trait can quickly be lost when you have domesticated animals interbreeding with feral ones. It only takes two or three generations, and obviously natural selection plays a gigantic role in this. Cats aren’t even as tame as dogs to begin with, and there was a great article in Scientific American regarding this about a year and a half ago.

    I love my cats but as a biologist I’m also realistic about the way they behave.

  41. 41

    @scarshapedstar: I have a question for you. If you have a cat as a pet, and you live in an area with a feral cat problem, then why in the hell do you allow your pet to go outside where they can find themselves in danger? Seems to me that you are just as responsible for the predicament that your cat found himself in as anyone.

  42. 42
    scarshapedstar says:

    If you have a cat as a pet, and you live in an area with a feral cat problem, then why in the hell do you allow your pet to go outside where they can find themselves in danger?

    Why the hell do I allow my pets to walk around in my own backyard? Gee, maybe because it’s my own fucking property, because they love going outside to roll around in the sun, because they are old and have kidney problems and it helps keep them from peeing on things. Understand that our pets were not wandering around the neighborhood, they were being attacked on the porch.

    If this was someone’s pet Rottweiler entering other people’s yards and attacking their animals, it would have been put down and the owner might be in jail. I really do not see why feeding a dangerous dog is a crime but feeding a dangerous cat is not.

    In any event, there was no ‘feral cat problem’ for about 13 years, until one asshole decided that he wanted to create a feral cat colony. Then we had a 2-year feral cat problem. Then he moved away, and the feral cat problem ended.

    This was a problem human. If anyone tries this shit again, I will simply remove the food and blame the raccoons.

  43. 43
    scarshapedstar says:

    I mean really. We have half an acre for our pets to run around on. I thought the general philosophy was that this was a good thing; after all we have an Australian Shepherd and he demands daily exercise.

    Now evidently we should keep our pets cooped up, even as they whine at the door to go out, so that some sociopath three houses down can festoon the street with dead kittens and raise an army of asshole tomcats to terrorize the neighborhood — and this is passively referred to as a native ‘feral cat problem’.

    And, in fact, this is exactly what we did for 2 years, as I said. We kept them in most of the time, they whined, they shit in weird places, and when we’d give up and let them out they would be attacked.

    God, I am so glad that motherfucker is gone.

    Just out of curiosity, will the feral cat fans at least condemn him as a Bad Feral Cat Guy? These cats were not neutered, vaccinated, counted, or loved. I once saw two roadkilled kittens in one week.

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    Anne Laurie says:


    There is a very clear and demonstrable difference between animals that are domesticable and animals that are not… You cannot take a feral cat and bring it into your house and expect it to settle down… You can selectively breed animals to become tamer over many generations

    … And that’s what “we” have done with cats, I’m afraid. Cats, more than dogs, need consistent friendly contact with humans at a very early age if they’re going to grow up to be the best possible pets. But it’s absolutely not true that “feral” is “hereditary” — the hand-raised offspring of two cats who’ve been out on their own for generations will be as tame as any pedigreed pet.

    In an ideal world, I agree, there would be no Felis domesticus that were not domestic. And I’m very sorry that your own beloved pets have suffered because irresponsible people treated the ferals in your neighborhood (or those ferals’ parents, grandparents, great-grandparents) as disposables. But until we can selectively breed an improved strain of humans, there will be feral cats. And some of us humans will believe, since humans were responsible for putting this race of not-wild, not-tame beings out there, that the rest of us have a share in the responsibility to make those abandoned-however-many-generations-ago ferals’ lives as safe and disease-free as possible. Of course, we hope this will also reduce the ferals’ negative impact on the ‘native’ environment… and on free-ranging pets like yours!

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    Just out of curiosity, will the feral cat fans at least condemn him as a Bad Feral Cat Guy? These cats were not neutered, vaccinated, counted, or loved. I once saw two roadkilled kittens in one week.

    I’m not sure you could call me a feral cat fan nor do I believe anyone on here is a fan of feral cats. However, I already stated that simply feeding stray cats can lead to problems.

    @scarshapedstar: You are right that simply feeding stray or feral cats leads to problems, but the problems you list are all good arguments for TNR.

    and, yes, it sounds like this person was very irresponsible and not a good neighbor.

    However, there’s that word again, you say the problem disappeared when the feeding stopped. Do you think the cats magically vanished? Your problems with them may have been eased, but those cats are still out there somewhere and now they are more unhealthy than before. The problem doesn’t lie with sympathetic people that feed stray cats. The problem lies with the irresponsible people that dump those cats in the first place. Heartless people that don’t spay or neuter their pets and then abandon the offspring either because they are too cheap to pay for vet care or simply because they don’t care.

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    scarshapedstar says:

    I just don’t see any empirical proof that feeding feral cats really helps them, though. I can understand people’s desire to help, but they simply are not helping. The law of unintended consequences is really ugly here.


    The veterinary and wildlife experts — even PETA — say that people should simply stop feeding them, and these are not the kind of people who like seeing cats starve.

  48. 48
    scarshapedstar says:

    However, there’s that word again, you say the problem disappeared when the feeding stopped. Do you think the cats magically vanished? Your problems with them may have been eased, but those cats are still out there somewhere and now they are more unhealthy than before.

    No, I suspect that many of these cats have since died. I saw them get run over all the time. The survivors have probably moved on to the next feral cat feeder, because I have not seen a single stray cat for a long time now. They’re not hiding out in the woods, otherwise I wouldn’t be seeing three and four rabbits at a time in the backyard.

    If that feral cat feeder stops, they will find another.

    If everyone stopped feeding them, I do not think that we would have millions of Auschwitz cats wandering from door to door for 3 years. I think most of them would die, and then a much smaller number would subsist on squirrels and such. I would consider this a solution to the overpopulation of feral cats.

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    Why the hell do I allow my pets to walk around in my own backyard? Gee, maybe because it’s my own fucking property

    Actually, it’s not your own fucking property. It belongs as much to the animals who inhabit on a daily basis as it does to you, and so if you let your pets run around out there and the animals which normally inhabit that land decide to defend their territory by taking a chunk out of your cat, then you have no one to blame but yourself. Your cat is the invasive species in this scenario, not the animals that are out there every day. You want to let your animals run free out there, that’s your business, but don’t act all pissed off when wild animals do what wild animals do.

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    Anne Laurie says:


    The veterinary and wildlife experts—even PETA —say that people should simply stop feeding them, and these are not the kind of people who like seeing cats starve.

    Pro tip: PETA is virulently anti-companion-animal. Their official policy is that all cats and dogs now alive should be “remanded” to “sanctioned holding facilities”, and that sharing a household with cats and dogs should be forbidden by law. Individual PETA chapters have also been caught “adopting” healthy animals from unwitting shelters and gassing them en masse. PETA should never be considered a neutral, or reliable, source of information — like any other cult, they consider lying to “outsiders” as not only forgivable but something to be encouraged.

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    The veterinary and wildlife experts—even PETA —say that people should simply stop feeding them, and these are not the kind of people who like seeing cats starve.

    No, they don’t say people should simply stop feeding them. Most of these groups do express concerns about TNR as a solution to the feral cat problem, but they don’t advocate allowing the cats to starve. What they do strongly advocate is that all household cats should be kept inside and not let out to wander around. They also advocate for education programs to get people to stop dumping pets. Do you think either one of those programs work?

    What works, is killing the feral cats whenever and wherever they are found. Unfortunately, this isn’t really a solution either, since few municipalities have the money or resources to control the feral cat population. However, there are people who love animals and are willing to get involved in TNR programs. These people are doing something to alleviate the problem. They are paying for neutering and vaccinations. This reduces feral births and some health problems. They are feeding the cats, which despite denials from bird-lovers, does reduce predation. Who else is willing to help?

    Not feeding them will keep the population down somewhat, but is not a real solution to the problem. Some sympathetic people will always choose to feed rather than see them suffer from hunger. We can’t kill off the estimated 65 million strays faster than they can reproduce. We can’t stop people from dumping kittens and unwanted pets. What do you suggest we do?

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    torpid bunny says:

    I’m sympathetic to people who care for feral animals and want to help them. However, it’s abundantly clear that these cats kill wild animals. If people want to make that choice of saying I care more about the welfare of feral cats than the wildlife, so be it, but let’s not pretend that these cats are anything other than destructive to our already threatened natural resources. So please know that you are choosing feral cats over wildlife. If you’re putting food out regularly in a certain area, you’re making the decision to sacrifice the wildlife of that area in favor of feral cats.

    Then there’s the problem that there isn’t actual evidence that TNR works in reducing feral populations. People are welcome to say, oh but if everybody was doing topflight TNR, it would work. Maybe it would, but that’s a pretty big counterfactual.

    It’s a difficult problem and as with most things there are no easy answers. Personally I would advocate targeted trapping and killing in selected areas with vulnerable wildlife. Large suburban developments with hugely fragmented habitats are likely hopeless, but there are some areas where the removal of cat colonies can be quite beneficial, for instance near beaches where shorebirds rest or reproduce.

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    Ray says:

    Every cat that is found outside of a house yard without a collar should be put down. I love the two cats that are in my house, but there are more than enough cats to be adopted. If you love one of the “shadow” cats then take it into you house. If not, stop feeding them and this problem may go away. This TNR policy does not stop the main problem. Why waste resources on fixing feral cats (that no one wants) when they could be better used on maintaining shelters.

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