Feral cats

The Purr-fect Cat Shelter, Inc.
Post Office Box 548, Medway, MA 02053
a no kill, non-profit, all volunteer organization

Feral cats

What is PCS doing to help?

What can I do to help?

First, we need to define feral as opposed to stray. A stray cat may be the neighbor's cat left out to wander or one that has been separated from it's family by accident, these cats will generally be friendly and are more apt to come to you willingly.

A feral cat is born outside, lives outside, and is undomesticated or wild. It will run from you, hiss at all who approach, as well as keep its distance. This cat or its father/mother or grandfather/grandmother may have started out as a pet but has been left to live outside, forge its own way and has reverted back to their wild roots. They are neither neutered nor spayed and multiply rapidly!

For several years PCS has been helping manageable or nice feral cats find loving owners. These cats come from the feral colonies in the towns that PCS services. PCS volunteers experienced in trapping and handling feral cats, along with a couple of local Animal Control Officers (ACOs), trap the cats and transport them to local veterinarians. There they are tested, vaccinated, and spayed/neutered at PCS's expense. The adult cats are then released back into the area from which they were found. Kittens are held in foster homes and placed in permanent homes through PCS when ready. The Trap, Neuter and Release (TNR) program leaves a healthy, vaccinated colony of adult cats in the neighborhood. The TNR program is being used successfully in many areas of the country.

Massachusetts has a law, which states an individual cannot trap and move a healthy wild animal - and under this law feral cats are considered wild animals. The only other option to stop overpopulation of feral cats in an area is to employ a Nuisance Wild Animal Trapper, which euthanizes the entire colony.

Spring and summer is an extremely busy time for calls to the shelter regarding pregnant feral cats. Individuals that have been feeding these cats through the winter or saw these cats last fall sneaking through the grass, now realize that they will soon have a population explosion in their backyard, under their decks, or in their shed.

PCS tries to assist all who call, but on occasion has to explain that the Shelter resources are at maximum capacity and we do not have any more room at that time. We have limited spaces for feral cats with kittens. Our foster homes handle the manageable cats and their litters, but in dealing with feral cats our resources are limited. PCS does not have the trained, vaccinated people to house these cats safely.

Another limitation is the availability of licensed, vaccinated and trained personnel to trap these cats. Trapping involves setting the trap, continually checking the trap, retrieving the trap after the cat is caught, and transporting the animal to a Veterinarian's office.

Lastly, are the financial constraints. Although most people we help with feral cats make a donation, it does not cover the medical costs of caring for the cats that are released, and there is no adoption fee. Donations made to PCS by our supporters go first and foremost to the feeding and housing of our adoptable cats, but we have been able to assist many of the feral cats reported to us.

PCS would like to remind people BEFORE you start feeding stray or feral cats to CHECK with your local ACO and find out what rules and regulations apply to feeding stray or feral cats. You may find your town has recently passed regulations stating "if you feed the cat it becomes your responsibility including sterilization and vaccinations."

On a final note, PLEASE remember that even though the cat may look healthy these animals are not vaccinated, you do not know what they have been exposed to, or what diseases you may bring to your home, yourself, your family and your pets.

If you are interested in becoming a PCS volunteer working with feral cats, please call our Message Center at 508 533 5855 or download a Volunteer Form from our website at http://www.purrfectcatshelter.org/volunteer.html