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A Helping Paw  - A New Generation - A New Way

Does this cat look feral to you? Ever try putting a hat on a feral cat?

Feral Cat Killers Need To Know...

   Even people who claim to love pets, kill feral cats. I guess it's not hard when you convince yourself these animals are unworthy of homes, diseased, pests.

   Thousands of stray/feral cats are killed each year. The public has no tolerance for them. And ABSOLUTELY no respect.

   It happens all the time, a call comes in to animal control - neighbors complaing about feral cats. Before you know it traps are set and cats are killed. By law, notices must be posted in trapping areas notifying residents of the trapping. Most notices read: Only cats wearing a collar will be released. Interesting considering our survey taken back in 2000 stated that 50% of cat owners didn't collar their pets that were allowed outside due to fear of the cat getting caught on something. Some notices state friendly cats without collars will be taken to a shelter for possible adoption.  "possible adoption" should be underlined -  Considering most of these cats are taken to overfull shelters, I wonder how many possibly get adopted?

   Did you know that any cat that shows signs of aggression while trapped is deemed feral and slated for euthanization? Who determined this an effective way of spotting a feral cat? Imagine being trapped, you are scared, strangers are around you, approaching you and you can't flee. Cats by nature are untrusting of strangers, their only defense when cornered is to hiss and spit. If a stranger approached my cat stuck in a trap, most of my cats would behave 'feral' also.

   So people can make themselves feel better by stating these are fierce, unadoptable animals, that need to be destroyed. But what they need to know is that in the process many friendly, highly adoptable pets are being killed also. Nevermind personally owned pets.

   Several years ago we trapped and rescued 200 cats from just one yard in Wareham. With huge numbers of cats running the neighborhood, people started shooting them. Out of control, the cats were due to be trapped and killed. A Helping Paw stepped in just in time and took over. I can guarantee you almost every cat we trapped hissed and spit at us, most we couldn't handle. Though the end result, nearly 85% of these cats socialized and have been adopted into homes. 

   Another resent rescue A Helping Paw was part of included 10 cats deemed ferals due to be killed.   One of the cats named Allan, had been living outside for near three years. Very nervous and scared at having hummans forced upon him, he behaved poorly on arrival. He was EXTREMELY threatening. Because of his very large size, we were quickly intimidated and didn't ever expect to have contact with this big boy. Two weeks later, he gives head-butts, purrs, wraps around your legs and is now sleeping in bed with his new dad. How many more just like him have been killed?

Rarely do feral cats want to have contact with you - they live a life of fear. Not socialized to humans the last thing they want is to approach you. Keeping this in mind, we can rule out myth # 1 - feral cats are a danger. They are no more dangerous than any wild animal living outside. You know enough not to pet a fox - then don't try to pet a feral cat.

Feral cats in controlled numbers, can provide a valuable service to our neighborhoods - FREE rodent control. In areas where there are few feral cats - people suffer from large rodent populations. They use pesticides and sticky traps in attempts to control the population. One homeowner used pesticides only to have the mice die in the walls creating a horiffic odor! Rodents can cause substantial damage - chewing on electrical wires in your home and even in your car! This can add up to thousands of $$'s in damages. Nevermind the urine and feces they leave behind on your kitchen counters and or storage areas. Some people are so overun , they can't even make use of their storage areas. It doesn't take long before you find a box full of keepsakes completely destroyed.

So many cats where killed during the witch hunts, areas quickly became over run with rats that spread plague.

We need to have respect for all wildlife - and this includes are 'wild' feline friends.

If you feed feral cats, give them the best you can - ensure their numbers are controlled. It's cruel and inhumane to allow them to breed. Having a controlled number of altered feral cats living in our neighborhoods is a benefit - allowing them to get overpopulated is not. A neighborhood may easily be able to have the rodent-control benefits of 10 feral cats - but when that 10 turns into 100 - then serious issues arise. More often than not it leads to the animals being killed. If you are feeding unaltered ferals - you are putting them at great risk! Nevermind the suffering litters will endure. Feral cats didn't ask to lead this life - they are born in the wild and learn to adapt. Sadly, for the majority their life span is under 5 years. Subjecting more kittens to this life-style is cruel. Cats are meant to be domesticated - enjoying a life of no fear, being loved by their 'people'. Allowing more kittens to be born, forced to a 'wild' life is heartless.

A Helping Paw has received far too many calls like this one: "My mom started feeding two stray cats ten years ago. Over the years they've turned into 50 feral cats that she feeds. She's selling her house in a month and the neighbor is threatening to have all the cats killed! Can you take them?"  Though this woman thought she was providing acts of kindness by feeding those first two unaltered cats - as you can see it has lead to the possible deaths of over 50. It would be near impossible for any organization to take on 50 feral cats. Instead of just feeding the first two cats she should have taken the effort to either get them homes and or have them altered. By not doing so her actions directly may  cause the deaths of these 50 additional cats. If it makes you feel good to feed stray cats  - make it feel even better by altering them so you know you are not causing their deaths.

More than ever humane organizations and animal shelters are actively working to help control populations so entire colonies won't be destroyed. Many organizations receive funding from foundations entirely to help with the costs associated with TNR (trap/neuter/release). Reach out to your local organization for help.  Your local organization may have this life-saving funding. Keeping in mind TNR funding can quickly be depleted, offer to make a valuable donation towards the altering of the ferals you feed. This will help stretch TNR funding to reach the largest number of cats in need. While some organizations may have to staff available to provide complete services such as trapping, transport to vet etc. smaller organizations may need your help by providing you with traps.

Remember, feral cats did not ask for this life-style - their parents  were dumped by uncaring members of our society. They were forced to adapt to a life in the wild. Though fearful of humans they share the same emotions our domesticated friends do.

Living with ferals we know they can form close bonds with other cats including domesticated cats. If they feel safe and secure they will purr and even play (a luxury most ferals don't have). Ferals have often formed a bond with a very close and trusted human, 'speaking' to them to have their needs met (often times food) and allowing that human to pet them. More often than not we've seen feral cats placed in our barn program develop a trusting bond with their caregivers - even to the point of eventually sleeping in their beds.  

Though many ferals can be 'tamed', the work involved can take years. As many semi-feral cat owners know.

So why don't we find homes for ferals instead of TNR? Currently thousands upon thousands of domesticated cats and kittens are still being killed due to lack of homes. With so few homes to go around, it is imperative that we focus on finding these precious animals homes before their lives are cut short At this time the best we can offer our feral friends is to ensure their lives won't be cut short by altering them.

Many of our feral friends do not want to be forced to live a domesticated cats' life-style. They wouldn't be happy being confined to a home with people forcing themselves on them (after all they fear people the most). It would be like forcing a raccoon to live in your home. It wouldn't be happy at all.


Loki is just one of our feral friends. Due to be euthanized - he was fortunate enough to find space in our permanent care program. Besides being wild he tends to have a fresh side. Keeping his distance 90% of the time - he's the first to arrive when he hears a can being opened. And boy does he turn into a mushy love! He'll even rub up against you - but when he realizes what he's doing, he gives you a dirty look like you tricked him. He's the brother to Poki, a semi-feral boy now sharing his home (or should we say ruling) with our Volunteer Board member Mary.