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Feral Cats in the City of London


 

 


Understanding Feral Cats

Feral cats are the wild offspring of domestic cats that are primarily the result of pet owners’ abandonment, failure to confine or failure to spay or neuter their animals allowing them to breed uncontrolled. Feral cat colonies can be found in either rural or urban type areas.  Feral cats are prolific breeders, they are elusive and do not trust humans. One female cat can have up to three litters per year, with up to five kittens per litter which in turn can start breeding in six months.

Frequently Asked Questions About Feral Cats

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  • What is a feral cat?

    Feral cats are the wild offspring of domestic cats that are primarily the result of pet owners’ abandonment, failure to confine or failure to spay or neuter their animals allowing them to breed uncontrolled. Feral cat colonies can be found in either rural or urban type areas.  Feral cats are prolific breeders, they are elusive and do not trust humans. One female cat can have up to three litters per year, with up to five kittens per litter which in turn can start breeding in six months.

  • What is a feral cat colony?

    Feral cats are not solitary in nature. They usually live as a group. Within this group there may be three to four generations of the same family. The size of the colony is dependant on the amount of the food source available to sustain the colony.  The colonies range from three to four up to several dozen.

  • Where do feral cats live?

    Feral cats live in both the city and in rural areas. Colonies are found anywhere there is a source of food, water and shelter be it in a dumpster, in an alley or under a porch.

  • Can feral cats be domesticated?

    Feral kittens can make good house cats if removed from the colony early enough and socialized with humans. Older feral cats can sometimes adapt but they generally resist domestication and are reluctant to trust humans.

  • What is the difference between a stray cat and a feral cat?

    Stray cats were once pets. They are tame, friendly and will allow you to get close and pet them. Stray cats can be rescued and adopted to a home. They are sometimes vocal.

    Feral cats were never tamed or socialized. They avoid humans and usually run away. Feral cats are very untrusting - so much so, they will wait to go to food if humans are in sight.

  • Why should we care about feral cats?

    Some people believe that cats will survive if they are abandoned. Most cats will not. Many more die slow, miserable deaths from starvation, disease, accidents, or attacks from predators because these animals were never truly equipped to survive. Feral cat colonies are a result of human neglect and therefore the care of the feral cat population should be managed in a humane way.

  • Why should we be concerned about feral cats?

    Concerns about feral cats (and for stray cats) in most North Americans cities include:

    • A growing population.
    • Feral cats hunt and scavenge for food in areas shared by foxes and skunks, the two most prolific carriers of rabies.
    • Often inhumane conditions for feral and stray cats.
    • Homeowners that do not want feral or stray cats in their neighbourhood (noise from yowling, fighting and spraying).
  • Why not just end the life of a feral cat?

    Trapping and euthanizing feral cats has been used for decades by municipalities across North America. This method has been shown to be ineffective, as the food source usually remains (dumpsters, rodents, etc.) and any remaining cats in the area will quickly repopulate or other colonies will move in and breed to capacity.

  • Is there a more humane and effective way for managing feral cats?

    Yes. The Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) of feral cats and managing colonies is an emerging program that is growing in popularity mainly throughout the United States, Europe and is now gaining momentum in Canada.

  • Are feral cats a problem in the City of London?

    Feral cats are a growing concern in the city because of their ability to reproduce and if this is not dealt with, the situation in London will not improve and it will become worse as the city grows. There are no estimates on the number of feral or stray cats in London. Limited information is available from other jurisdictions. Based on the reproductive cycle of a cat, the number could be quite significant.

  • What is the City of London doing to assist feral cats?

    A Trap Neuter Return (TNR) program has been developed to assist neighbourhoods within the geographic boundaries of the City of London cope with the increasing number of feral cats. This is a community-based initiative which is absolutely essential if the program is to work.

    There is a criteria required to get assistance with TNR.

    1. All stakeholders (landlords, tenants, neighbours) must be on board with TNR.
    2. Are the cats safe at that site?
    3. Is the area safe to do TNR? (debris, embankments, derelict  buildings, etc.)
    4. Is there someone on site that can distinguish the owned cats from the ferals and keep track?

    As part of the process, all TNR cats are eartipped which means the quarter-point of the ear is removed to identify that the cat has been fixed and has received a rabies vaccination. This is a universal symbol of a feral/community cat.

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