Feral cats avoid human contact. They have either lived their whole lives on the street with little or no human contact and are afraid of humans. Some feral cats may have been owned in the past but have lived away from human contact long enough to revert to a human state.
Feral Cats that have already been TNRed will have an ear-tip - the left ear will be flat and shorter, and the right pointed. An ear tip is done while the cat is under anesthesia, they feel no pain, and it is only a cosmetic feature. Ear tipping is extremely important as it identifies to the public that the cat has had a rabies vaccine and should not be trapped again unnecessarily. Colony feeders will be able to identify when a new cat enters their colony, as it will have both points and thus need to be trapped.
There are kittens on the street! What do I do?
Kittens, when trapped under 8 weeks, can be socialized and become loving indoor cats; with the proper fostering no one would know that they were feral! CRA has special drop traps that are available to trap an entire litter of kittens and mom at one. It is just as important to trap the mother as it is the kittens - she will need to be tested for FeLV/FIV and spayed so she is not reproducing again. If you get kittens, it will be extremely important to contact CRA immediately to have them taken to a vet. Kittens, like newborn babies, have fragile immune systems, and it is important to ensure their health. Keep all kittens in a bathroom or dog crate and away from your own pets until seen by a vet.
The first step to caring for a colony you see is to identify who is feeding. There are usually one or more feeders. You may find shelters, food or water bowls on their property. Approach the feeder to let them know that you would like to help. Discuss TNR, and make sure that all of the cats are ear-tipped. If they need TNR - contact CRA. If there is no one feeding, you should begin now. Be sure to provide water - this is the most commonly forgotten necessity! Contact us and we will set you up with traps, training and vet appointments. We can also provide you with shelters if available, or resources for you to with make inexpensive shelters or buy fancy new ones. If any new cats that are not ear-tipped enter the colony in the future let us know, you will be a TNR expert at that point!
"After 4 1/2 years we've been able to sterilize over 7000 cats. The county Dept. of Animal Control shelters report a decrease of almost 50% in cat impounds and euthanasias since the FCC was formed. Other local shelters report similar declines, sometimes complaining of a shortage of available kittens for adoption. The FCC method works!"
Campus Cat Coalition (University of Texas)
"Our program has been in effect since 1995. We have trapped/neutered/released 64 adult feral cats; removed/socialized/homed 71 kittens and removed/homed 14 friendly strays. We have not seen any new litters of kittens in the past 2 years. We are currently at a zero population growth rate! Can't argue with those statistics, can you?"
Cal Poly Cat Program
Started in 1992 with approximately 500 cats, colony is stabilized with around 100 remaining. Stanford Cat Network Founded in 1989 with an estimated 500 cats. The population has declined by two-thirds and the remainder is healthy cats, thanks to the TNR program.
AFCAT (Aggie Feral Cat Alliance of Texas)
In existence for around 21 months, the Aggie's feral cats number has been reduced by one-third, and no feral kittens have been trapped for twelve months.