If you are already starting to care for feral cats, Thank You!! I am going to share some suggestions here that might help someone who is just starting to feed outside cats, at your home. I learned some of these by caring for colonies during trapping process.
- First, and most importantly, connect with a vet or a TNR program to get the cat neutered. If you do not, you will go from one or two cats to a ‘totally out of control’ amount of cats in a couple of years.
- If you, as a community caregiver, handle the cats often, you may be giving them an option to be adopted through your local shelter once neutered and checked out. Talk to your local shelter about these possibilities.
- If you are going to feed them some where, make sure that it is under a porch roof or something so that rain/snow will not get in their dry food.
- Remove the food dishes after feeding time. If you do not, they may hang around and pee and poop on your porch. In other words, they could ‘settle in’.
- If you leave food out overnight, you may attract some critters that could hurt the kitties and damage your property. You could also attract ants inside the food and worse, like inside your house. Take the food in after they have finished eating.
- Make sure you also leave out water with their food. That can be left out for a while.
- Use either disposable dishes or take the non-disposable dishes inside and wash them.
- Consider an outside litter box to keep them from using your porch or flower beds as a little box. If you have a larger colony, you can build a ‘sandbox-styled’ one for them.
- For us in Texas, there are occasional hard freezes. Feral cats can die during these times, especially any young ones. Build them a place to stay warm. One of my caregivers has taken a metal troth and filled it up with hay under a porch roof. Another one has done the same thing on a flat trailer that is not often used and covered it with a tarp. Some people, up on pilings, have built a wind break section under the house. (Keep in mind, they might use the area as a bathroom.)
- Remember, once cats are settled into a community, it is very hard to get them ‘re-homed’ into a different place. So, know that you have made a commitment to your colony. If you will be away for a time, make sure someone will feed the cats for you.
Neuter, Neuter, Neuter, keep a ‘well managed’ colony for the sake of your neighbors and the cats. I have seen community female cats actually injured, severely, during the mating process by overly aggressive male cats.