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What is a Feral Cat?

feral (adj.) [Lat. fera, wild animal - ferus, wild.] 1. a. Existing in an untamed state. b. Having escaped from domestication and become wild. 2. Of or like a wild animal: savage.

A feral cat is one which is free-roaming and unowned, often referred to as alley cats or strays; abandoned or neglected pets living without human contact, that have developed a natural fear of humans similar to wild animals. Visit the Feral Cat Coalition for more information.

Where do Feral Cats Come From?

An estimated sixty million feral cats live in the United States today. These cats are victims of unfortunate circumstances brought on by people who do not understand the problems they have created by refusing to spay or neuter their pets and abandoning them when ownership becomes either impossible or no longer desired.

Unsterilized cats eventually band together in groups called colonies. Surviving on meager scraps, these colonies grow.

Where are Feral Cats Found?

You can find them everywhere. In particular, commercial, industrial, and military facilities have become havens for feral cats struggling to survive. Ferals also live in wooded areas, storm sewers, and drainage ditches. Visit Alley Cat Allies for more information.

Feral Cat Population Control


Animal Control has tried to eliminate them by trapping and killing. Eradication has proven ineffective and expensive in the long run. The presence of feral cats in a place indictates an ecological niche for approximately that number of cats. The permanent removal of significant number of cats from a niche will create a vacuum that will then be filled through migration from outside or through reproduction within the colony. This influx of a similar number of feral cats, that are usually sexually intact, leads to more cats within the colony.

Thus, mass removal of cats from an established colony increases the population turnover, but does not decrease the number of cats in the colony.


Trap - Alter - Return - Care and Management - It is time to look at this situation from a different perspective. With proper management, new insight and education, what was traditionally considered a problem can be turned around to create positive coexistence with naturally occurring benefits. A feral colony, for example, can elliminate and control an infestation of rats or moles with no, or very little, inconvenience to coexisting human populations.

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