Feeding feral cats turns these wild felines into strays that come to rely on some human interaction and care for aspects of daily survival. In winter feral cat health is most endangered, and animal lovers must meet some basic needs to help the cats stay alive.
Feeding Feral Cats
People and Animals in Community Together (PACT) Humane Society encourages human caretakers to supplement adult cat food with kitten food, starting as early as September. The organization explains that the higher calorie count of kitten food helps stray cats to pack on a few pounds before the cold weather hits.
Remember that feeding feral cats requires the human to adapt to the cats’ schedule, which frequently depends on the daylight conditions. Generally speaking, a feral cat may await a refill of its food at dawn and once again at dusk.
Maintaining Cat Health in Winter through Adequate Shelter Options
Frostbite and freezing to death are very real dangers that the feral cat faces in winter. Setting up winterized dog houses is an excellent option for the person who cares for a feral cat community or single stray. Cats need to be sheltered from extreme temperature fluctuations, blowing winds and icy rain.
Keeping the Ultimate Goal in Mind: Population Control
As outlined by Pet Place, humanely trapping and sterilizing a feral cat is the ultimate goal of the human-feral interaction. Left unaltered, wild stray cats multiply frequently. The Cat Site estimates that currently there live in excess of 60 million feral cats in the U.S.
Although the kittens (more often than not) die, those that survive continue on the cycle. A person who considers feeding feral cats and protecting cat health during the winter should take the final step of also trapping the animals, having them altered and then releasing them back to their respective colonies.
The Myth of “Somebody Else” Will Maintain the Winter Health of a Feral Cat Colony
Feeding feral cats opens the door to a host of responsibilities. Attempting to maintain cat health and survival during the winter further strengthens these ties. Even though these stray cats will rarely turn into house cats, they nevertheless appreciate the handout they receive from concerned humans. That being said, some folks might consider taking a trapped feral cat to a local humane society.
Alley Cat Allies warns that this step more often than not results in the death of the animal. Adult feral cats are frequently deemed to not be adoptable and will be euthanized by shelters that are already running out of space. Feral kittens have a slightly better chance, assuming they received some human socialization.