Yes, these surly looking felines get their own day!
These are just a few of the feral (wild) cats in our care that our volunteers have been working hard to trap. MLDHS started a Feral Cat Catch and Release Program in 2009 to address and help combat the overpopulation of feral cats in and around Meadow Lake. This program involves trapping cats humanely, having them spayed/neutered and vaccinated, and then returning them to the wild. Feral cats are a symptom of the greater problem of failure to spay and neuter companion animals. Feral cats were, once upon a time, as domesticated as the cat curled up on your lap, but due to unwanted litters continuously being born they were abandoned and had to learn to survive on their own, away from human contact.
Adoption is not always an option when it comes to feral cats. We have taken in feral kittens and were able to socialize and adopt them to loving homes, but more often than not, feral cats are unable to be socialized and adopted out, so they receive the necessary vet care and are released back into the wild to live out their lives and fulfill their duties.
While some people may view feral cats as pests, they actually have an important role to play in the community. Feral cat colonies are responsible for keeping rodent populations down. They are natural exterminators, eliminating the need for toxic chemicals and dangerous devices.
Cats are very adaptable animals and feral cats especially have the survival skills to endure even the harshest of conditions. However, there has been a movement of people that have “adopted” feral cat colonies, providing food, shelter and water for the helpful felines. This can be a rewarding experience for those who are unable to have pets of their own, to have the opportunity to “take care” of another living creature. In return, the feral cats provide safe and effective rodent control.
There are even some famous feral cat colonies. Canada’s Parliament Building in Ottawa is home to a dozen stray cats that help to control the rodent population on Parliament Hill. They are maintained by a dedicated group of volunteers, who even constructed them elaborate shelters that have become a tourist attraction in their own right.
On the other side of the boarder, Mickey Mouse better watch out! Disneyland has it’s own colony of feral cats that have been keeping the rodent population under control for over 25 years.
Feral cats play an important role and the Catch and Release program is a valuable service in our community. Not only does it stop cat overpopulation, but it cuts down on undesirable behaviors such as cat fights, yowling, spraying and it can even protect your own domesticated feline: having feral cat colonies vaccinated reduces exposure to and the spread of disease.
With the increase in public awareness, education and acceptance of feral cat populations, we can only hope that the days of treating feral cats as nuisance animals and pests will become a thing of the past.
For more information on Feral Cats, Catch & Release programs and Colony support, please visit Alley Cat Allies.