Homeless Cat Facts
What are homeless cats?
Homeless cats are sometimes called feral.
Always the result of pet owners' abandonment or failure to spay/neuter (S/N) their animals.
Many assume their animals will survive when they move away and leave them behind; domestic animals do not automatically return to their "natural" instincts and cannot fend for themselves.
They do not have the skills needed to survive outside unassisted.
True ferals are not socialized to people.
Typically fearful of people.
Prefer to avoid contact with people.
Occasionally form bonds with caregivers and may eventually be socialized to be adopted.
They typically live in groups called colonies and have strong social bonds with their feline colony members.
Who are feral cats?
Feral cats are healthy.
<1 % are euthanized due to debilitating conditions, trauma, or infectious diseases.
Experience similar or lower rates of infections than those for pet cats in the U.S.
Their lifespan is similar to pet cats.
Feral cats are protected under state anti-cruelty laws.
Intentionally killing a cat is a criminal offense in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Applies to all cats—companion, abandoned, lost, and feral – regardless of ownership.
How managed colonies provide benefits:
Stabilizes the population at manageable levels.
No more kittens! The population stabilizes and declines over time.
Multiple long-term studies have shown that managed colony population sizes decrease over time.
One study found a 66% decrease in the populations over 10 years.
Another documented study showed decreases 16 -32% beginning three years after TNR began.
Stanford had an estimated 1500 feral cats on campus in 1993. The Stanford Cat Network was formed to manage the feral cat population. Friendlies and kittens were removed and placed into adoptive homes. Feral cats were TNR'd. As of 2006, there were 50 feral cats on campus. This was a 97% reduction in the population of feral cats.
Eliminates annoying behaviors associated with mating (yowling, fighting).
Eliminates or drastically reduces spraying and the associated smell.
Humane to the animals and fosters compassion in the neighborhoods.
Studies have shown that having cats around helps control the rodent populations.
The simple smell of cats elicits a flight response and increased defensive behavior in rats.
Cats cannot eliminate 100% of rats. They do drastically decrease the presence of rats.
It is more effective and less costly to Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return (TNVR) than repeated attempts at extermination.
Problems created by eliminating cat colonies:
Increase in the number of cats.
Relocation or “Catch and Kill” will not keep an area free of cats.
Results in a Vacuum (The “Vacuum Effect”).
Removing cats create an opening for unaltered cats to move in and take advantage of the available resources. These cats then reproduce and fill the space.
Documented phenomena worldwide.
Rodent populations increase without cats.
Rats can squeeze through cracks ½ inch wide.
Mice can squeeze through cracks ¼ inch wide..
Any place a pencil can be poked, a mouse can go.
Rats can jump vertically 36 inches, horizontally 48 inches, and reach horizontally or vertically 15 inches.
Rats can jump 8 feet from a tree to a house if the branch is 15 feet above the roof.