Three new kittens have arrived on the scene. The feral cat colony where I and others feed a crowd of approximately 15-20 outside cats is growing. Some of the cats have been spayed and/or neutered. Some have not. And unfortunately, when residents move away and leave their cats behind, the cat population grows.
I don't own a large van or a truck, so transporting several rented cat "traps" is impossible for me. I have worked with a local contact who's with the TNR or trap/neuter/return program.
You can learn more about the TNR movement at http://www.alleycatallies.org/.
I'm retired, and living on a fixed income. When I was able to do so, I donated money to help pay the costs of humanely trapping, neutering/spaying/ and vaccinating some of the feral cats. It costs money to buy cat food as well, and nothing's getting cheaper these days.
In recent weeks I've cut back on the number of trips I make to the feral cat colonies, simply because the cost of gas has gone so high. Fortunately, I'm not the only cat fan, so they get fed. And they hunt.
What worries me most right now is the raccoons. We have spotted raccoons eating from the cats dishes. The cats have to deal with the crows that swoop down and steal their food as well.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, raccoons account for 34% of all rabies cases in the U.S.--more than any other wild animal. It's ridiculously easy for rabies to be spread from one wild animal to another--or from one wild animal to your pet, if it goes outdoors. Rabies transmission happens when virus infected saliva is passed from an infected host animal to another animal, usually from a bite; though there are other, less common ways rabies is spread. A vaccination can protect cats from this fatal disease.
Through the Trap/Neuter/ Return program, cats and kittens are humanely and painlessly trapped in large cages, and transported to the participating veterinarian, where they are spayed or neutered, and given rabies and FVRCP vaccines. They are sheltered by the TNR volunteer for a few days to recover, and then returned to their colony. Before any ferals are trapped, the TNR volunteer checks with the owner of the property where the cat colony is living, to make sure they can return.
Although it might seem like living in a comfortable house or apartment with a human family and maybe other cats/dogs is ideal, it's not reality for a lot of cats. A truly feral cat will be miserable living within the walls of a house or apartment.
Big wild cats have always shared the planet with us, though their number are decreasing, according to National Geographic.
As for the small cats that live outdoors, neutering stabilizes their population growth, and vaccinating protects them from fatal disease, thus helping them live normal healthy lives outdoors.
If you donate on this site, I pledge that all of it will go to helping the feral cats stay healthy and fed.
(I'll post more pics of the kittens as soon as possible. Their mama cat has just recently brought them out to the community food bowls, and the kittens are a bit shy.)