Dealing With Cats in the Neighborhood

AdobeStock_77542598If you see a random dog roaming the street, you probably start looking around for the owner because it’s not common for people to let their dog wander around unattended. However, cats are another story. It’s not practical to keep them in the backyard, so even pet cats may start strolling the neighborhood. Stray and feral cats, however, can start to pose a problem when they take over your community. 

Is it a Pet, Stray or Feral Cat?

Some cats you see are just people’s pets. They are probably indoor/outdoor cats. These cats probably aren’t too much of a nuisance, and they tend to stay closer to home than feral cats. Stray cats are another issue. These cats don’t have a home to go to, so they may try to steal food wherever they can find it. For stray cats in the neighborhood, it’s best to humanely catch them and take them to a no-kill shelter in your area or find someone who will adopt them directly.

Feral cats are completely another story. Unlike strays, feral cats don’t make good adoptable pets because they aren’t used to humans. Taking them to a shelter isn’t a good idea because they will only take up precious space or end up getting put down.

How Can You Deal With Feral Cats?

So, what can you do with feral cats in the neighborhood? You can’t simply relocate them, and killing them is just inhumane. The best solution is the TNR, or trap-neuter-return, method. Basically, you humanely trap the cat and take it to the vet, get it spayed or neutered and get its shots. The vet will also surgically remove part of the ear, so everyone knows it has been spayed or neutered. Once the cat is healed, it is returned to the neighborhood.

This may seem like just a waste of money. You’ve dished out dollars on a cat you don’t own and then just sent it back to patrol your neighborhood. However, the cats can’t reproduce, so the population doesn’t increase. Eventually, as the cats pass away naturally, there are fewer and fewer feral cats.

How to Get Everyone Involved?

No one is going to happily volunteer to pay for all these feral cats, so it’s best to get everyone involved. Start by creating a forum on your HOA website for people who do want to help. They can communicate about different feral cats. It’s also a good place to talk about the stray cats in the area. People can even use it to find potential homes for the stray cats.

Of course, there is still the issue of the money. Instead of making people pay for the costs themselves, consider running fundraisers or holding community garage sales to raise the funds. Make sure to shop around to find a vet that offers inexpensive spaying/neutering for people who are following the TNR plan.

Cats can be a lot of fun, but when you have stray and feral cats roaming your neighborhood and breeding, your community quickly becomes overrun. It’s best to handle stray and feral cats in a humane way that eliminates breeding.

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