Get Ready for National Feral Cat Day

Next Thursday is National Feral Cat Day. Wondering what National Feral Cat Day is? It was launched by Alley Cat Allies ‘to raise awareness about feral cats, promote Trap-Neuter-Return, and recognize the millions of compassionate Americans who care for them.’ (from the National Feral Cat Day website). All over the country, various organizations have planned events to increase awareness, educate people and help these often-misunderstood kitties.

If you would like to learn more about feral cats, Cats in Tow ran a series of posts last year discussing several aspects of the feral cat issue. Click on the titles to read more: What to Do; First Step; Stray, Feral, Pet; The Feral Fix; Why TNR; Cat Colony Care; TNR: Humane Trapping; Colony Carer Help and More Help for Feral Cats. (all will have links)

Or better yet, get involved with National Feral Cat Day. Click here to find an event taking place near you. If you are in Orange County, the OCSPCA has organized a Feral Fix drive. Or contact your local rescue shelter to find out what you can do.

Feral cats are not wild animals. They have been domesticated by humans and need our help. What’s your plan for National Feral Cat Day?

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Feral Cats in Ireland, Guest Post

In honor of St Patrick’s Day, we are sharing an article from Ireland.  This post was originally published by Feral Cats of Ireland. For more information on what this kind-hearted organization is doing for feral cats in Ireland, visit their website or Facebook page.

Ireland Has a Feral Cat Crisis

Feral and stray cats can be found right throughout Ireland in our cities, towns and countryside.  In housing estates, industrial estates, at factories, on farms, at hotels and hospitals, in car parks and derelict buildings.  In groups called colonies, they manage to survive by living on their instincts and with the kindness of humans who feed them daily.

Feral cats in Ireland are more commonly described as ‘wild’ cats. They are the same species as domestic cats, in fact many are former domestic pets that have been abandoned by their owners or left behind when their owners moved house or passed away.  Some have strayed from home and are lost.  Many become wild in order to survive and their offspring will also be wild as they will have had little or no human contact.  All are trying to survive as best they can.  It is not their fault they find themselves homeless and hungry.

There are no official statistics as to the number of feral cats in Ireland but their numbers have been guesstimated at hundreds of thousands.  The reason for this vast number is that the majority of feral cats are unspayed and unneutered and consequently breeding uncontrollably.  One female cat and her offspring can be responsible for a colony of 30 cats in an area in just one year.

Whatever the true number, Ireland has a feral cat crisis.  That such numbers of cats are living in our communities, often struggling to survive in sometimes harsh conditions with not enough to eat on a daily basis, a lack of adequate shelter from the elements and with no access to veterinary treatment for minor or major illness or injury or just the basics such as parasite treatment is unacceptable.

We have created this crisis and it is up to each of us to be compassionate in our dealings with stray and feral cats in our neighbourhoods, responsible and humane when addressing their plight and to educate ourselves on the most effective way to address the issue of uncontrolled breeding which is Trap/Neuter/Return.

Feral cats have the right to live long, healthy, safe and peaceful lives in their territories without the burden of breeding or threat of death.  Trap/neuter/return offers them that opportunity.

With many thanks to Feral Cats of Ireland for allowing Cats in Tow to share this post.

Have you had experiences with feral cats in other countries? We would be interested to hear your stories.

Time for A New Addition, Part 6: Finding Our Furry Friend

Decisions, decisions. For those of you following along, We are contemplating a new addition to our household for 2014: two cats. I gave a short introduction in Part 1, talked about space in Part 2, time in Part 3, money in Part 4, and considerations of type of animal in Part 5.

As most of my questions have been unanswerable, I am quite happy to announce that this week the topic requires no decision on my part! My cat or cats will be adopted from a shelter or rescue organization.

Reputable shelters are absolutely the best option when adopting a pet. Shelters are overrun with cats and dogs all times of the year. They are always looking for loving forever homes for their furry charges. No-kill shelters and rescue organizations in particular struggle with not being able to take on new animals when they are over capacity. Most of these are run by people who just love animals and want the best for them. Cats in Tow is a case in point! They have teamed up with PetSmart in Brea, California so that people looking for a new animal companion have a place to visit the animals ready for adoption. Or check out our page of currently adoptable pets.

Shelters work hard to make sure each adoption is a success. Many have foster programs where animals that are not quite ready to be in their forever homes stay temporarily in safe places. There could be many reasons why an animal isn’t ready: females who have just had kittens or puppies, puppies or kittens that are too young, illness, shyness due to abuse or abandonment issues, just to name a few. Many people think that shelter animals all have behavioral issues, but that is simply not true.

Shelters also work with veterinarians to make sure the animals are healthy. Spaying and neutering is required to keep the abandoned animal numbers from continuing to grow.

Some of the expenses that most shelters cover before adoption: spaying/neutering $150-300, two distemper vaccination $20-30 each, rabies vaccination $15-25, heartworm test $15-35, flea/tick treatment $50-200, microchip $50. Those expenses would need to be covered by you if you got a free pet from a friend, advertisement or other source.

This article dispels some of the myths around adopting from a shelter.

And most important for me, shelters are not focused on profit. They are focused on the health, well-being and positive outcome for the animals. An animal is a living being and deserves better than to be commodity. If you are still unsure of shelters being the best option, please do some research, talk with a veterinarian, look into the problems of animal cruelty and animal overpopulation.

Finally, we have our new love or loves (well, not really, but in blog land!) The end? Not quite, next week we will wrap up the series with some tips for successful adoption and introduction of new family members.

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Two lovelies looking for their forever home. Thanks to Hugh Mobley (Hugh Mobley Photography,http://www.hughmobley.com/) for the photographs.

Cats of Israel, Part 2

Angie, one of Cats in Tow’s amazing volunteers recently returned from a trip to Israel. On this trip Angie experienced how well feral cats are treated in Israel and was inspired to share the story. This is part two, so if you missed the first post, click here.

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“The Israelis are respectful of the cats and treat them so well. I was amazed and proud of the citizens of Israel! I also saw that many, many of them have their ears tipped, indicating they practice TNR. The cats are so used to people that some will let you pet them for a minute, but most will at least let you get close to them and talk to them. There was even a cat at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem! And it was okay with everyone. No one was shooing them away or anything.”

Cats of Israel (Part 1)

Cats in Tow Volunteer Angie came back from a trip to Israel with an heartwarming story about the feral cats living in this fascinating area. We’ll share her story over the next couple weeks.

“On a recent trip to Israel, I was so proud to see an amazing example of coexistence between feral cats and an entire country!

There are literally hundreds of feral cats roaming around there. Everywhere, in every alley, in every nook and cranny of every city…and they are amazingly healthy and happy. There are feeding stations everywhere for them and they wander around the outside seating for restaurants (which almost every restaurant has) and customers also feed them.”

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Why TNR

Why does Cats in Tow believe that trap, neuter, release programs are the best for feral cats?  We believe that every cat deserves a chance at a happy life.  The best scenario would be for every cat to have a warm, safe home where they were adequately fed, received attention and were kept healthy.  That is not the reality for many, many cats though.
 
Just because these cats don’t have a human address, does that mean they are unwanted or should not be cared for?  Cats in Tow does not think so.  Feral cats are not going to make good pets (except on very rare occasions).  It is best that they are left where they are, which also keeps the population of feral cats stable. 
 
However, they need to be spayed or neutered, for their own health, to reduce the problems associated with mating and to keep them from producing more kittens (an un-spayed female cat can be responsible for over 3200 kittens according to the National Pet Alliance).
 
TNR also gives the people caring for the feral cats a chance to check their health, manage parasites and assess whether it is possible to transfer kittens to a life with humans. 
 
We’ll go into specifics on upcoming blogs about how to get a TNR program started and resources for people who are assisting with a feral cat colony in their community.  If you are curious about the science behind TNR, Alley Cat Allies have a list of scientific studies here).
 
Are you supporting a feral cat colony?  Please send us a message to tell us about your experiences.

Pre-adoption Spotlight: Harley (Part 2)

This week we are featuring the story of Harley, previously know as Kiki.  Harley is in our pre-adoption program and is living with a foster family until she is ready for spaying and adopting. Since Harley’s foster mom sent us some enchanting photos with the report on Harley’s first week, we thought it was a great way to talk about the Cats In Tow pre-adoption program.
 
Some of you may be wondering how this tiny little kitten already has two names. While this can happen when there is confusion on the sex of a kitten, Harley’s case is a matter of personality. Foster mom Kassiday came up with the suggestion, ” I was wondering if I would be able to rename Kiki to Harley. Her rambunctious personality fits it way better than Kiki. And also she… [has the] loudest purr I’ve ever heard!”
 
You can almost hear that engine humming when you look at this photo!
 
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Pre-adoption Spotlight: Harley

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Harley (previously known as Kiki) is a playful gray tabby who is doing a little growing up before she will be spayed and ready for adoption (one of the kittens in the Cats in Tow pre-adoption program). While she waits, she has been lucky enough to find herself in a foster home with one of our fantastic volunteers, Kassidy.  Harley’s foster mom has been kind enough to send in some photos and a report on how Harley’s first week has gone. 
 
“It’s been a fun week for me and Kiki. She was excited to get acquainted with her new dwellings. The one major thing I learned about Kiki is that she is a very playful and hyper kitten. Rarely ever do I see her not jumping and moving around from one play article to another….  When she is ready to cuddle she’ll come up to me and play on my chest.”
 
As this photo shows, Harley may just be getting this cuddling thing down though!

The Story of One Feral Cat

A woman found a stray cat in her backyard and discovered she was pregnant. She coaxed in her house and she had her 5 babies in her bathroom. Unfortunately she died soon after. The woman bottlefed and nurtured the 5 babies and they grew strong and playful. They enjoyed their home and she kept them safely inside. Her granddaughter loved to watch them play. She noticed they would go to the window and cry. She heard another cat outside who would cry too. She figured the kitties wanted to play with one another so she let the outside kitty inside. Several months later, each one of the 5 inside only cats began to give birth to their own litters. Within 3 months there were 5 inside cats plus a litter of 7 kittens, 3 litters of 4 kittens and 1 litter of 5 kittens–all safely kept inside the house! Hmmm, how many kitties will there be in 8 months? Spay and Neuter even if you have an inside only cat, please!