Feral cats may not be considered “adoptable” by everyday standards of people who want a house cat, but by the standards of someone who needs a cat to manage a barn, now that’s where feral cats are truly adoptable—or a warehouse or even a library or post office, as cats at one time were actually employed to control pests in post offices in the UK and the US. We probably have fewer farms today than the era when cats had a real job to do as their domesticated role in human society, but we probably have no fewer mice and other rodents who need to be seriously put in their places.
Just last week an article about a program called “Farm Livin’ ” made the rounds from SpokAnimal, which instituted a program wherein they provide feral cats who come into the shelter with spay/neuter and vaccines and they find them a place where they can live and be fed and supervised by a responsible human and provide rodent control in the most natural way possible. Normally those cats are euthanized, much as they are in most shelters, but they’ve saved the lives of 1,700 cats since 2009.
Why a barn or warehouse or such arrangements? Why can’t they just be in a house? If feral cats don’t like to be touched you won’t touch them, but why can’t they live in a house? Because truly feral cats didn’t grow up with people. They grew up in the company of other cats and weren’t “socialized” as are the cats we adopt for companions, meaning they didn’t learn how to react to their surroundings inside a home with humans and human activities and want to remain with what is familiar, even with winter cold and summer heat.
Feral cats are not “wild”, they are still a member of the species felis, domestic cats. As a domesticated species through history, whether feral or pets, cats lived near humans to take advantage of the food they could glean from humans and on the rodents human activities attracted, and often lived comfortably in barns and many became pets and indoor companions judging from the art and literature we see through the ages. Being feral doesn’t mean they aren’t dependent on humans—you don’t find colonies of cats living far from human habitation, but always near enough for sustenance and even shelter. There are times when feral cats can learn over a period of time to accept human habits and to live with humans, but the truth is that, until they have the time to adapt, being in a human space frightens them, they feel unsafe and vulnerable, may be violent in some situations, but will likely hide and may not even eat. But living outdoors doesn’t mean we shouldn’t give them support, like safe and comfortable shelter and food and water, and especially to spay and neuter them so they don’t have the health risks or lifestyle of unaltered cats.
Here are a few cats who could use a program like that right now here in Pittsburgh and also in New York.
Rescued ferals through local rescuers
The cats pictured above and these four immediately below are all located in the Pittsburgh area. Two rescuers, Sherry and Geneva, found a large colony of stray and feral cats living in their town this spring, just about the time of year cats begin to reproduce. The two got busy trapping and spaying and neutering and assessed the temperament of all the cats. Many were friendly and were sent to foster homes and are looking for forever homes. These cats were not social enough to be able to be adopted into a home, but they are spayed and neutered and up to date on vaccines, and can easily accept your job of rodent control. As Sherry mentions below, she will provide food and instruction on how to relocate the cats and help them adjust to their new outdoor home.
Sherry and Geneva are local cat rescuers on my side of town. Sherry has been helping manage a 30-cat colony and also helping with TNR in other areas where it’s needed. She has rescued a number of cats and fosters them for adoption. Geneva discovered a colony of feral cats near where she lives and has been providing TNR for them all at an amazing rate, but they can’t necessarily go back where they came from.
Sherry posted a number of cats who are looking for a working home.
Geneva and I are looking for people with barns that could take 2 or 3 cats. We can provide food to get them started. They are spayed and neutered. They are feral cats, good mousers but won’t be happy living in a home. We have a mama and her baby that are bonded and need to stay together. We have 3 black and white young cats that we’d like to stay together and We have a tiger striped 1 year old and a black 1 year old that we’d like to stick together. Please pass the word and share.
Put one to work now!
The Young and the Feral, Dottie’s ferals need to move in Brooklyn
A friend of mine in New York City needs a new home for a dozen feral cats! Jane Denny inherited a colony of feral cats when she inherited her mother’s house, and moved in with her own cats to take care of them. The neighborhood is being torn down and redeveloped all around her, her asthma has grown so intense she had to rehome her own cats with friends, and she desperately wants to relocate these feral cats, sell the house and get out of there. Jane is also a freelance commercial artist and illustrator and like me has limited time and means to do this. You can read about them in the flyer below as well as at this link on Jane’s website.
Amazon Wish Lists
Many rescuers pay out of pocket for veterinary care and food but the costs of raising even the average litter of four healthy kittens is more than many people have, and many rescues have greater needs. Pittsburgh CAT has a number of wish lists that include foods for feeding neo-natal kittens like KMR, and other lists that include the best kitten foods, adult cat foods, food and materials for feral cats, and preferred toys and litter.
Pittsburgh CAT Wish List: http://www.amazon.com/registry/wishlist/2IUQ0FQOL2I51
2015 Foster Cat/Kitten Wish List: http://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/1A1HUNQ7J3DL/ref=cm_wl_rlist_go_v?
Winter Kitten Wish List! http://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/3CZ6IYCKS2A7N/ref=cm_wl_rlist_go_v?
Fall Wishlist for Fosters/Ferals! http://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/2TD3TQBOEMT1E/ref=cm_wl_rlist_go_v?
Food For Foster Kittens: http://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/OJQIYGC91289/ref=cm_wl_rlist_go_v?
Our Groups Foster Kittens! http://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/1D226142CCGZX/ref=cm_wl_rlist_go_v?
Can’t adopt? Foster! Can’t foster? Donate or volunteer.
There are so many ways you can help cats who need homes and care. You may not have room to adopt another cat, but can foster a cat or kitten for a few weeks. If not that, you can volunteer at a shelter or with a rescue, or donate. You do this because you love your cat, and by doing so you help all cats. No matter which of these actions you take, you help to save a life, and make life better for all cats.
- Adopt one of the cats I’ve posted here, or from any shelter or rescue near you, or from Petfinder, to open up a space for another cat to be rescued and fostered.
- Offer to foster cats or kittens for a shelter or rescue near you.
- Volunteer at a shelter or rescue.
- Find a group of volunteers who work with homeless cats and help them with their efforts.
- Donate to a shelter or rescue near you.
If you can foster kittens or adults cats to help prepare them for a forever home, please run to your nearest shelter and find a cat who needs you! Anyone can help with this effort at any level, even if all you do is donate to a shelter or rescue so they can help to pay for the food or medications needed for their foster, or the spay/neuter/veterinary care during a clinic.
Need to know more? Read Fostering for Your Shelter and Fostering Saves Lives
Browse some rescued cats and kittens—browse here or visit PittsburghCAT!
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Weekly schedule of features:
Sunday: Essays, Pet Loss, Poetry, The Artist’s Life
Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters
Tuesday: Rescue Stories
Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork
Thursday: New Merchandise
Friday: Book Review, Health and Welfare, Advocacy
Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats
And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!