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Feral, Stray and Community Cats

Have you found an abundance of outdoor cats in your neighborhood and are not quite sure what you can do to help?  Here are some things to consider.

Is it a stray cat or a feral cat?

  • Stray cats may be fearful at first if they have not had human contact for a long time but will eventually warm and will be able to be picked up.  Stray cats have the possibility of becoming pets once again.
  • Feral cats are skittish and fearful of humans and while they may eventually let a caretaker pet it, generally they cannot be picked up, and would make poor indoor pets.

Are they kittens?

  • Kittens may not be abandoned. Mom may be moving them.  Wait before taking action as staying with mom is the best for young kittens.
  • Feral kittens can be domesticated to become indoor pets, but in general there is a very small window for this to happen between about 4 weeks old to 8 weeks old.

What kind of time and resources do you have available?

  • If the cat is a feral cat, trap-neuter-return (TNR) is the recommended humane option.  This is where you trap the cat, get it fixed, and return it to the location that it was trapped.
  • If the cat is a friendly stray or kittens under 8 weeks, ideally they would be socialized and rehomed.  Sometimes you can find a cat rescue that has the resources to do this.  But many cat rescues are full and stretched thin on budget.  At this point you would have to decide whether you would have the time to socialize and rehome on your own, or if you would only be able to commit to at least having them fixed so they do not increase the population of outdoor cats without homes.

Once you have decided TNR is the best way to proceed, you can find tips for trapping on many feral cat organization websites. You can also do a search on YouTube for helpful videos. Many local feed stores will often rent or loan traps and offer advice.

Once you have committed to trapping the cat, there are many cities that have decided to take action in controlling the community cat population and offer return to field programs for residents participating in the TNR process.

For those who cannot take advantage of any of the city assisted programs or who want to have a little more control over the treatment of their community you can apply online for an OCCATS Feral Fix spay/neuter voucher through our OCCATS (Orange County Cares About Cats) program.

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