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Feral Cats: Assessing Solutions

Updated on July 15, 2017
Examining the Issues, Exploring the Options
Examining the Issues, Exploring the Options | Source

How to Keep Feral Cats Out of Our Gardens?

Questions about feral cats range from wondering what the definition of the term is to how we can best deal with their behaviors.

Examining the issues surrounding their needs and considering ideas for managing them for the good of all concerned is important, and not difficult.

On the lookout for feral cats that have stalked her in the past.
On the lookout for feral cats that have stalked her in the past. | Source

New Orleans has Largest Number of Feral Cats in the USA

What Options are There for Feral Cat Problems?

Feral cats are commonly called stray cats, alley cats, barn cats, and sometimes abandoned cats. There is a difference between an abandoned cat and a feral cat, but it does not take long for an abandoned cat to become a feral cat which is technically a true wild cat, even though they may live near people and look to them for food when they can.

A happy solution for a feral cat problem is to find it a home to live in, but that would require ideal conditions and life simply isn’t that convenient. Finding good homes for them would be wonderful, yet doing so is generally not possible.

Short term solutions are possible. If a feral cat comes close to people a spray bottle filled with water will chase them away and a water hose can help from a distance, but with both of these ideas homeowners have to be ready when the cat comes around and the result is not long-lasting.

Crumbling dried herbs like


• citronella

lemon balm

• mosquito plant


• peppers


throughout outdoor areas can be helpful, but the logistics of keeping any effort like that up every day speak for themselves. After a day or two and after a rain feral cats often return to check out any area they found to be safe in the past.

On porches and around gardens it is quite helpful to have those herbs growing in pots if you can afford to buy and maintain the amount needed to do the job, but that is not a year round solution. There are also electronic devices that supposedly help a homeowner out, but reports on how well they work vary considerably.

Rome has Largest Population of Feral Cats in the World

There are organizations in some communities like the one highlighted in my last video located just above the comments section that offer more aggressive options. Be sure to check those groups out with local authorities before contacting them. TTVAR, a trap, test, vaccinate, alter, and release strategy, is just one of the programs they use to help feral cats.

The most permanent solution too often comes through animal control. Because feral cats can carry various diseases that are dangerous to people and pets, animal control agencies have to be available. It is a serious matter that fleas and ticks from these cats have the potential to spread disease among other animals and people.

The facts about diseases like toxoplasmosis (a parasite with the ability to greatly harm or kill humans), infectious wounds from fighting and from vehicle injuries, Bartonellosis (or cat scratch disease which can make a person sick for a year or more), rabies (currently uncommon in cats), FIV and FeLV require a hard look at the reasons animal control could be required.

An effective solution for dealing with feral cats is critical for justifiable reasons. When they carry those diseases time will eventually take care of their problem, but much damage is done in the process, including the possibility of mutation of some of the diseases which will eventually make treatment more difficult for all cats.

The reproductive rate for cats is incredible and the suffering they can endure, including the cannibalization of the kittens by toms, is heartbreaking. As well, coyote populations are on the rise and they consider feral cats good prey. Feral cats feeding those growing packs has its own set of problems.

Patiently seek a good and kind solution. Do not react thoughtlessly when trying to help feral cats (or any other animal).

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This kitty does not like surprises!Nor does this kitty like being photographed!
This kitty does not like surprises!
This kitty does not like surprises! | Source
Nor does this kitty like being photographed!
Nor does this kitty like being photographed! | Source

Education Means that We Can

Be ready

to offer or get

appropriate help!

Considering Whether go Talk go Neighbors About Feral Cat Problems?

Attempting to talk to anyone responsible for feral cats being in your area requires careful consideration. It is important to determine their attitude by finding out whether they encourage the animals but are unwilling to spend the time and money to do what must be done to solve the problems.

These people may feed them so they won’t starve, but refuse to give them the care they need if they are going to roam freely. Being unwilling to pay vet bills and provide housing, some leave the cats at the mercy of the elements and their diseases, as well as their circumstances with other animals and even people who would hurt them, consequently doing more harm than good.

The question of whether to talk to neighbors might be easy if you know them well enough, but if not, it would be wise to think carefully about all of the possible responses they could have. Talking to them could create bigger problems for neighbors than the feral cats themselves.

They may respond with anger, and then they may respond in any number of other ways. We like to think better of people than this, but decent people have faced unfortunate responses when they’ve tried to reason with and even work with neighbors to deal with feral cats.

Need to Find Help for a Feral Cat Problem?

Start with finding out what the law about feral cats is in your community. Some animal control agencies and humane societies can put citizens in touch with organizations that will take in feral cats. There are even some individuals who take donations so they can care for cat populations in their home and on their own property.

Keep in mind that some of those groups require you to pay for a cat’s treatment by a vet or humane society before they can take it in. When you consider the number of feral cats a colony can have, it’s not hard to understand why people cannot always go that route. As well, the organizations may provide some help, but even they cannot care for all of the feral cats.

Have you ever dealt with a feral cat's behaviors?

See results

Fox After Cat

Problems with animals don’t always have the most desired solutions, but taking a frank look at the options helps us decide what the wisest course of action is for the people and animals concerned. Calling animal control is never an easy decision, but many problems in life require firm resolve in order to figure out the best action to take.

A realistic look at the consequences of refusing to take action helps us do what needs to be done. One conservative report is that the USA stray cat population now approaches 350,000. They and their offspring can produce 420,00 more cats in 7 short years since kittens can begin reproducing at age 5 months. Other reports indicate that these numbers are much higher.

There are two sides to the main issue, but we have a responsibility to look beyond our feelings and embrace the best course of action after considering all aspects of the concerns regarding feral cats. Obviously, patiently seeking a good and kind solution for the need rather than reacting thoughtlessly is what will be most helpful.

However, it is important to ask how long anyone should run the risks involved with having even one unattended feral cat roam a neighborhood. We can be ready to get appropriate help by setting initial feelings about the cats aside, getting educated about the issues involved, unpacking and sorting out the complicated feelings that can result from facing the issues, and becoming familiar with the kind of help that is available where we live.

Learn More About Shelters Before Using Them

Begin with information that provides a bigger picture so you can know what questions to ask. What about the so-called no-kill shelters?

Make a Vet Appointment Before Trapping a Feral Cat

Want More Information on Keeping Feral Cats Out of Your Yard?

The first 4 links offer important information on organizations and the last 4 include reports on different aspects of the issues related to keeping feral cats out of your yard:

Humane Society

Feral Cat Coalition

Operation Catnip

A Feral Cat Analysis

National Geographic

Feral Cat Blog!

One City's Plight

An Entire Colony of Feral Cats can be Trapped and Treated

Cats at Home:

• Make sure you know how to care for your cat.

• A tea leaf planter for growing herbs above stray cats.

Barn cats are part of what draws this character's heart home.

Do You Know of Other Organizations that Offer Help to Feral Cats? Add Their Link to the Dialogue Below:

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    • Artsy Edie profile image

      Artsy Edie 5 years ago from California

      Mothballs are a simple answer. Spread them in your flower beds and anywhere the cats like to spend time. They don't like the smell and just go away.

    • gail641 profile image

      Gail Louise Stevenson 5 years ago from Mason City

      Great information on feral cats.

    • profile image

      jenubouka 5 years ago

      I did not know of the term "feral" cats. I have many, many of those due to two ladies who harbor about 20 cats each, and that was last year's count. It seems they have taken a liking to my yard which is blocks away to mate and poo. Springtime is especially horrible for this, I love the natural remedies to deter them, and have wondered about a more permanent way. As an animal lover I can not stand to think of any animal not being taken care of, and having a little one playing outside I am even more ambitions to remedy a solution. Great suggestions here! Thanks.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      Artsy Edie:

      Mothballs would chase them away, yes indeed, for they do smell horrible. There may be other problems associated with using them to deter cats. They are a pesticide and toddlers could pick them up, and small pets might dig around them. Perhaps they could be used short term if they were contained and out of reach of children.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey


      Thanks kindly--so appreciate that you visited this hub on feral cats and that you let me hear from you on it!

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