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What are feral cats?

When people refer to stray cats, they usually mean feral cats. Feral cats are simply non-domesticated cats living in the wild. They were born in the wild, and have never had a home. Their behavior is completely different from domesticated cats. They are truly wild animals.  Cats are very self-sufficient (as most people are aware) and excellent hunters, and thus able to live in the wild just fine.

Nuisance behaviors, such as urinating and defecating in someone’s yard or garden,  hiding in someone’s car and upsetting an owned cat or dog, are the greatest concerns that the general public has about outdoor cats.   However, overpopulation is a serious concern as well.  In the United States, approximately 2 percent of the 30 to 40 million community (feral and stray) cats have been spayed or neutered.  These cats produce around 80 percent of the kittens born in the U.S. each year.  Those kittens, especially if they are allowed outdoors, add to the number of outdoor cats and the problems associated with them.

In addition, shelters receive many nuisance complaints about outdoor cats and/or feral cats, including:

  • Frequent, loud noises that are part of the fighting and mating behavior of unneutered/unspayed cats.
  • Strong, foul odors left by unneutered male cats spraying urine to mark their territory.
  • Flea infestations.
  • Visible suffering from injured and dying cats.
  • The death of wild animals who are cats’ prey.

There are resources to help with stray cats.  Mentor Community Cats (www.mentorcommunitycats@gmail.com) is a non-profit organization that can help you Trap, Neuter/Spay, Release (TNR).  This stops reproduction and helps eliminate the nuisances that feral cats create.