|Ivy looking in from the deck. She left us last summer at age 17.
Today is the 10th Annual National Feral Cat Day sponsored by Alley Cat Allies to create awareness of the feral or community cats living in our midst. This years theme is All Cats All Communities. To meet the post poster cats Inky, Pearl and Pie click here.
As most of you know by now, our cats are feral cats that were living in the woods behind our farmhouse in the mountains of western NC when we moved in 1999. Back then most animal shelters euthanized feral cats thinking that was the best way to deal with them. Ally Cat Allies was the only national group that offered TNR (trap, neuter, return). I found this group online and contacted them about the best way to help our feral cats.
With Alley Cat Allies brochures and instructions in hand, I trapped over 30 cats for TNR. I found a great veterinarian in our neighborhood who worked with me to get them all spayed/neutered. Dr. Farmer did the spay/neuter for the local Humane Society (the one who were going to put my cats down) so she gave me their discount. She was a life saver. Dr Farmer explained that she drove by these cats every day and felt so bad for them but without consent or assistance from the neighborhood, she was at a loss how to deal with this. That's where I came in.
|The first shelter of straw bales.
It was an ongoing project for about a year or so but we got the cats all neutered. I built a straw bale igloo as a shelter for the first winter with straw on the ground inside for warmth and a plastic tarp over the top to keep it dry. That shelter progressed to an old kitchen counter that my husband insulated and out fitted for the cats with a flap door and a raised platform for feeding.
|The screen porch on the present cat house.
We had a huge garden on our land and the feral cats kept the garden free of voles, mice and other pests. They did not let people come too close but I would leave toys for them to pay with - catnip filled ones and balls. Their favorite was a plastic Easter egg - it would roll over the grass and was light enough for them to bat around.
Our neighbors all knew about the cats so would keep an eye on them for us. Unfortunately other people began to drop off unwanted cats here thinking we would care for them. We did. They were trapped and taken to the Dr farmer, then either rehomed if they were tame or released back into the group neutered.
The director of the local shelter did come by one day to see how things were going and was very surprised at how healthy the cats looked. She had felt that because they had no home, their lives must be so miserable, they would be better off dead. She came away from this visit with a different perspective on feral/community cats.
|Woody on our deck.
Many of my original feral cats have gone to the Rainbow Bridge. Those left are living the best life indoors with us in our new home an hour and a half from the farmhouse where they all were born. Even though the ferals were taken indoors at a late age, they have tamed up quite well with a lot of effort and love.
Please help feral cats in your community today and every day by volunteering for a local feral cat group if there is one, donating money or food for the cats. Thanks to Alley Cat Allies, so many towns and cities have TNR groups now whereas when I began it was not the norm. For other ideas about how to help the ferals visit here.