Feral cats are generally once domesticated or the offspring of once-domesticated cats. A colony of feral cats can act as a reservoir of disease such as FeLV/FIV and other diseases and parasites that can be transmitted to domestic pet cats. They are also more likely to be involved in road accidents. The rates of illness and deformity in the colony are increased due to poor nutrition, inbreeding and continual breeding and fighting. Female cats in a continual cycle of breeding are vulnerable to potentially fatal diseases, which can result in a partially weaned litter being abandoned. It is estimated that 80 per cent of kittens die in their first year due to accident, disease or starvation.
Do not leave food out for the feral cats. This also includes bowls left out for pet cats. Alternative arrangements should be made.
Food put on the street for cats is viewed as littering and will incur a Fixed Penalty Notice if observed by an enforcement officer, resulting in a fine of £60 or prosecution.
Pet cats should be fully vaccinated in accordance with veterinary advice, regularly wormed and treated for fleas.
Pet cats should be microchipped or wear a collar identifying their owner/residence.
Neutering of pet cats
If you own a pet cat, consider installing an electronic cat flap, which allows only your cat access to its own food, water and security and excludes any feral cat.
What can you do?
If you have concerns about feral cats, the RSPCA and Cats Protection recommend that:
- cats are humanely trapped and taken for veterinary examination
- new homes are found for cats and kittens with a suitable temperament
- sick or injured feral cats are put to sleep
- healthy cats are neutered; have an ear tipped to allow for identification and are relocated to suitable new home or are returned to the colony to limit further expansion of the colony
Ideal locations for rehoming are farms and small holdings where they may be useful as a method of pest control.
If you feel that you can provide a home for a feral cat, please contact Cats Protection.