What is a Feral Cat?
Feral cats are the offspring of domestic cats who have never lived with humans. They are the product of human neglect and live in colonies in alleys, dumps, parks, on school grounds – wherever they can find food and shelter. If you have ever tried to approach a scruffy cat, only to find it retreating with lightening speed, apparently afraid to come anywhere near, you have likely encountered a feral cat.
Many people mistakenly think that feral cats refer to all stray cats. Cats that are seen roaming on the street are often runaways or neglected cats that have had contact with humans and are not true feral cats. Another mistaken opinion is that feral cats are wildlife. Feral cats cannot be defined as ‘wildlife’ in that they are not a naturally occurring wild species. Rather, feral cats are descended from domestic animals that, due to human neglect, have been forced to live as wild animals. As such, their care is society’s responsibility.
Feral cats are a growing concern in cities across Canada because they multiply quickly and spread diseases to other felines. Cats breed rapidly and one cat and its offspring can produce 420,000 cats in seven years, with two or three litters per year. The volunteers of Greater Victoria Animal Crusaders and Dee’s Orphan Kitten Fund work to make a better life for these cats. Most feral cats live less than 2 or 3 years if they manage to survive beyond kitten hood.
GVAC and Dee’s support a ‘trap, spay/neuter, vaccinate and release program’, which involves catching stray and feral cats, neutering and vaccinating them and then releasing them. The process will effectively decrease the number of feral cats as they will not be able to reproduce.
Some people have advocated euthanasia as the most appropriate method to solve the problem of feral cat colonies. However, this approach does very little. Once all the feral cats in a colony are euthanized to wipe out the colony, other abandoned cats will move into the space, breed and the colony will restart. Our approach is more effective and more humane.
If you see or know of a bunch of cats that you suspect may be feral, please call us, and we will work to make their lives better. If you see a pregnant cat please call, as many females cats are abandoned once they get pregnant. We do not want them to give birth outside, but rather safely in one of our foster homes.
If you find a bunch of kittens outside, gather them up immediately. For example, if they are in your compost bin, under your deck, or in a wood pile, immediate intervention is necessary. Gather them up even if they are very small and call or email:
Dee’s Orphan Kitten Fund (Dees) ph# 250-896-5771 email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Greater Victoria Animal Crusaders (GVAC) email: email@example.com
Please keep watch for the mom cat, as we will want to catch her if possible.