Rescue Journal

feral cats

Carol  ·  Oct. 9, 2009

i did want to talk more about them, independent of the cowchican thing because average joe public doesn't understand them very well.

feral cats are animals born without any contact with humans, as the babes grow past the first few formative weeks, they lose the natural ability to easily bond and develop trusting relationships with humans.

so for all intents and purposes, they become (at least to us) a wild thing. but as far as nature is concerned...they are in fact a big mistake and nature did not give them the tools and skills of other wild animals in order to survive very well.

therefore they can sometimes survive for a few months or years living on the periphery of human beings..their chances are better if they are given active support like trap, neuter and release and regular feeding at feeding stations managed by human beings.

but they cannot survive on their own..they cannot survive isolated from human support because they were supposed to be a domesticated animal protected by humans. nature did not evolve them into an animal that could survive on their own.. this is why you do not see feral cat colonies thriving out in the bush..out there they would just quickly become part of the food chain.

their only real chance is to be within a well managed group.

the other thing about ferals is no one..not even me... can identify a true feral from a domestic freaked out cat..they look and act exactly the same. i have had "feral" cats come in..and 2 days, or 2 weeks, or 2 years later, the domestic switch has turned back on...and all of a sudden the monty's, the websters (aka broken tail) and maybe the morgans are not feral anymore.

i did not rehabilitate them and tame the wild beast within..they just eventually remembered who they really are...which was once someone's pet abandoned to survival out on the street.

so what i want to say to everyone is this....feed that poor cat roaming around your street. trap that poor cat out there on its own..maybe it is a feral and needs to be spayed/neutered/vaccinated and vet checked and have a regular, predictable source of food..or maybe it is a previous pet who would like eventually to come back into the human fold.

but do not turn your back on not close your not convince yourself that feral cats do just fine..they do not. they are the result of neglect AND abuse of cats within our society, they are NOT supposed to be out there on their own.

and here is a very sad truth about us..most of us will move the world to catch and help a sketchy dog on the loose...(read brindleweb and the saga of boujie)..but we will not bestir ourselves one single inch for a cat in the same kind of predictament.

this is because cats do not have as much value as dogs do to us so we can come up with our excuses to keep our eyes firmly closed.

these cats do need our help....lets not pretend that they don't.



Carol, I haven't been on the blog for a while but, of course you can stay with me anytime!! I'd be honoured. Also, sad news. I learned just after the Toronto screening of "Cat City" that Hemingway had passed away.


I have two feral cats - one was trapped in a junk yard in Oregon sleeping in an old car. Unlike the 25 others in his colony he couldn't escape when the person who saved him approached, he lay sick and dying. Unbelievably he survived after being rushed to the vet and became a youtube sensation- "One eyed Mickey". I adopted him from his rescuer and although he was already 18 months old he did become used to me as he was still too weak to put up much resistance. He's now healthy and comes for pats but would instantly go back to his wild side if someone tries to pick him up.
The other one is a little Manx who has bowel problems born into a feral colony. She's not as wild as she was brought to the SPCA while still a kitten and I socialized her to people early in her life. Both adjusted well to living in a household and were readily accepted by the the other cats living here.

Last thing - lets not forget the domestic feral rabbits out there, as people also have the same mindset in terms of feral cats. Their coloring and lack of know how when they are dumped makes them subject to being hit by cars, predators and other dangers. Many don't even dig holes as they sit out in the open. I have 12 of these dumped bunnies and only 2 ever attempted to dig a hole when I take them out daily in their outdoor area. (I've had them for 5 years now.) It took a few years but all live peacefully in a free run. I'll have them for life .

Jane Stanley

Cat City was so good. I had no idea of the extent of the problem - in my own city. Carol - you can stay at my place anytime.


Cat great documentary..that needs to be aired more! Yes, a Toronto trip for "Hemingway".


"one thing tho…cats are MORE disposable than pop cans..people will stop and pick up the pop cans to return for a few cents…in our society…most street cats aren’t even worth that much effort."

And isn't that just pitifully sad. And despicable!


Excellent post Carol. Should be required reading...

I enjoyed the documentary "Cat City" tonight. I hope it brings a lot of awareness to the plight of all abandoned cats in our communities. I will be purchasing the DVD (available on the website ) to donate to my local library.


one thing tho...cats are MORE disposable than pop cans..people will stop and pick up the pop cans to return for a few our society...most street cats aren't even worth that much effort.


thx for posting about the "cat city' peice marisa...i managed to watch most of it...very well done. now i want to come to toronto and bring home a couple of those very sad (and old) looking shipyard cats.
can i stay with you?


If only people would realize that these lost, abandoned, ferals are instead scarels. People think these little souls can take care of themselves and "find" food in cities and on the streets. This thinking has to end. Give them a break, feed them and TNR or TNA (adopt)them and STOP the unwanted breeding. I pray that in my life time I will see all animals in a good home, with love and all the food their hearts desire. Until then, I have to go set some traps. Later......


Carol, I don't know if you remember almost 4 years ago when you were transitioning to your new location and we were getting ready to move into the old site, we borrowed a trap from you. We used it to trap 2, roughly 4 months old, kittens. It took time and patience but they are happy, healthy, indoor only cats that we absolutely adore. They are sketchy with new people but have great trust with us. My only regret is that we didn't get mama kitty. It hurts my heart that we didn't. I just want to thank you for letting us borrow your trap and that you helped save our 2 feral cats, Cosmo and Kramer.


sorry, i was at work when i posted the comment and was interrupted by actual work stuff so i forgot to say ...don't beat yourself up forever (altho you probably will)...i think when things happen that the knife of life's reality sticks us right thru the hearts..that's when we suddenly say..oh! i wished i had done this instead and we grow.

growing hurts.


well lori..i told my family right after i moved out that there was a half grown cat hanging around, i saw him when i would stop by to pick up some ex said no, he was a neighbors cat. 2 years later lindsey called me and said there was a sick and skinny feral cat hanging around and he wouldn't let her near. i said that is the same cat from 2 years ago..feed him, make friends, trap him and get him into the vets....she and jenn did that.
that is now our saint monty, FIV positive, round as a pumpkin now.

but i have sadder stories...the half grown feral kitten that escaped out my window that i could not catch again..i know she died out there, i still feel sick inside.

the trick is to learn so that next time we do better.


I have had my feral for 9 years now and JUST last year she started peeking her head around the couch and leaping up onto my lap. It's truly special when she purrs contentedly as I stroke her. I have always let her do her own thing because she has as much right to be standoffish as I do but it still makes me smile that, nowadays, not an evening passes without her snuggling up in my lap.

Also, there is a WONDERFUL documentary on feral cats I would highly recommend. It is Toronto-specific (where I am) but, of course, applies everywhere. The blurb is below but I'm not sure if the air dates or channels would be the same in B.C.

Cat City – The Documentary Friday October 9th, 8pm on Global

See the trailer:

On any given night in Toronto it is estimated that over 100,000 lost, abandoned and feral cats roam the city streets. Never spayed or neutered these cats produce thousands of offspring adding to the burgeoning number of homeless pets.

For years, euthanizing unwanted animals has been seen as a viable solution by animal control agencies to deal with cat overpopulation.
Now cat rescue groups, shelter workers and humane societies alike are calling for a stop to the needless killing of healthy, adoptable animals and are demanding humane alternatives.

Cat City takes the viewer into the heart of the issue of cat overpopulation by going to the frontlines of the crisis in Canada, following grassroots activists, shelter workers and cat lovers as they tirelessly work to rescue these lost and abandoned animals.

What does it tell us about our society when an animal becomes as disposable as a pop can?

cheryl and stef

3 of the 5 cats that we have are feral, momma cat was born on the property truly feral until she herself had kittens that we trapped and brought into the house along with 3 have new inside homes and we have kept 2 of her kittens along with her they are all inside cats and she is the most affectionate cat but on her terms and only with Stefanie and I....anyone else that comes to visit they hide but they bring joy to our family...

hope you do not mind we copied your outside run for the cats and Stef built one for the girls. They love basking in the sunshine in their outdoor playpen


Too true. My guy Hardcase who seemed totally wild and whom I trapped, had neutered and released (always making sure there was shelter and food for him) came and meowed at the door six months later, was invited in and has been part of the tribe ever since.

Lori Paul

This one really hit home with me Carol. In late July I noticed a calico kitten in my yard (I have a cat and the neighbour also did at that time) who was maybe 6 months old. I thought a neighbour had a new cat so I didn't even think to put out food.
I feel so bad about this I can't even tell you.
Aug 8th (our 1st anniversary!) I woke to find the little beauty lying on my front lawn, rear end paralyzed and gums almost white. A vet close by said 'no hope, she's dying' so we put her down and cried, both my husband and I, all day long. I'm so disappointed in myself for not attempting to help that poor little cat who, in hindsight I realize was likely a barn cat from down the road or a drop off. I actually thought it was too pretty to have been abandoned. Needless to say, I will never again assume a cat or dog is just wandering the hood. Talk about a painful lesson, this one is still just killing me.

Jane Stanley

Good post, Carol. My own wonderful housemate is a feral cat from Singapore, that I couldn't leave alone on the street, found when she was just 5 weeks old.