catIf you live in New York City, you’ve probably spotted a feral cat, if not several! You might have noticed them skittering into alleyways or ducking under cars. Who are these little critters and what makes them different from your kitty at home?

What is a feral cat?

A feral cat is one who hasn’t been raised by humans, and as a result, is not used to interacting with people. Because they haven’t been socialized, feral cats are too fearful to be handled and are unsuitable for adoption. Feral cats are not quite the same as strays, as many strays are former pets who are lost or have been abandoned. While feral cats do not live with humans, many are dependent on them for food, whether it means eating scraps from a dumpster or treats left out for them by members of the community.

What are New York City volunteers doing about it?

Unfortunately, the feral cat population has reached drastic levels in New York City. Fortunately, organizations such as the New York City Feral Cat Initiative (NYCFCI) have devoted themselves to reducing the feral population through humane means. They promote a method known as Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR), a process in which cats are humanely caught, vaccinated, spayed, and then released. NYCFCI trains community members to safely catch feral cats and bring them to proper facilities for neutering.

How can you get involved in your area?

If you have spotted feral cats in your neighbored but are unsure how to help, you are in luck! NYCFCI offers resources on how to safely provide food and other resources for feral cats. You can also take one of NYCFCI’s TNR trainings to actively help reduce the population in your own area. In addition to NYCFCI, there are many local groups who work closely with the feral kitties in their communities.

If you are looking for a companion, you may be interested in adopting or fostering a feral kitten! Feral kittens are young enough to be socialized and find permanent homes with people. And of course, dollar donations to TNR initiatives and local cat shelters are always helpful!

Are you looking for someone to care for your newly adopted feral kitten? Book a meet and greet with one of our friendly pet sitters. We can come visit your kitty, once, twice, or even three times a day!

Candace Elise Hoes is a pet sitter and blogger at Katie’s Kitty. She is a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at California College of the Arts.

photo by Leans on flickr