WHAT IS A FERAL CAT?
The official definition of feral is, “living in a wild state after domestication”. We consider that feral simply denotes unsocial behavior toward people. Behaviors can be modified, and some feral cats become tame. Regardless of whether a cat loves people or fears them, any outdoor, unaltered cat reproduces and contributes to the homeless cat problem.
We choose “free-roaming” to best describe what most people call “feral cats”, because free-roaming includes lost, abandoned, loosely-owned and stray cats in addition to “feral”. People feed and care about all the cats.
HOW DOES SPAY/NEUTER CHANGE THE LIVES OF FREE-ROAMING CATS?
Body condition is a reliable indicator of health, that is, a robust cat is a healthy cat. Scientifically conducted studies reveal that altered free-roaming cats gain weight after altering. This makes sense considering that females no longer endure pregnancy and raise kittens. The risk of uterine infection and mammary infection disappears after spay surgery. Neutered male cats stop vying for breeding and fight less resulting in a healthier lifestyle.
WHY DO WE CARE ABOUT CATS THAT AREN’T PETS?
No one questions that people frequently enjoy relationships with wildlife, whether they are bird watching or crouching near tide pools to take in the amazing diversity of life. We care about other creatures in our world even when they can’t be snuggled and many people bond with free-roaming cats and find great satisfaction in helping them lead healthy lives.
WHY DO WE SPAY/NEUTER CATS THAT AREN’T SOCIAL WITH US?
All unaltered cats contribute to the pool of unadopted kittens and cats euthanized in shelters every day. If we magically altered every free-roaming cat today, more would be born tomorrow. Tame cats are the original source of all free-roaming cats. The cats haven’t chosen their owners nor their social skills. For our purposes, whether a cat is tame, feral-behaving, shy, friendly, semi-feral, stray or something else, just doesn’t matter.
HOW DOES ALTERING A FREE-ROAMING CAT SAVE THE LIVES OF SHELTER KITTENS?
A scientific study revealed that about 85% of pet cats are altered while only 2% of free-roaming cats are altered. Population projections estimate 33 million kittens/year come from pet cats and 147 million come from free-roaming cats. (Levy, J., Humane strategies for controlling feral cat populations (2004), Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Assn., Vol. 225, No. 9.)
Every time a litter is born, it lowers the odds that others will be adopted. Competition for homes increases. What happens to the kittens that aren’t adopted? You know. But with spay/neuter, fewer kittens are born, competition for homes is reduced and lives are saved through prevention.