September 10th, 2007, 02:00 PM
I live in the country on 160acres of treed land at the end of a dead end road. needless to say over the years we have had our fair share of stray cats....However none have taken the time to wander up to my location back in the woods... We have your usual predators, dogs, coyotes, foxes.....Anyway I have two cats that are around, they look healthy enough, will not let me near them at all....(assuming they are feral)
My question...Is it worse for me to start feeding them? Will it do any harm to feed them?
Winter is coming, and winter can be brutal, should I set up accomodations?
We do have a barn about a 1/2 mile from me...Should I feed them in the barn?? (non-heated barn)
AHHHHH sooo many dilemmas!! :shrug:
I want to what is best, but do not want to hurt them if they are surviving...
September 10th, 2007, 02:15 PM
It's tough with ferals/strays. IMO, the best thing to do is to trap them (you can rent or borrow humane traps), and arrange to have them spay/neutered (essential so that the feral population does not grow). Then I guess it depends on how wild they are (my vet sometimes assesses this and is pretty good at determining whether they can be tamed or not), sometimes you can get them to adapt to being pets, and if not maybe you can provide a shelter and feed them (as I am assuming you sound willing to do) and leave them outdoors. Ideally I would contact a rescue and get some advice and perhaps help with the whole situation. And bless you for wanting to help these two kitties, I hope it all works out and that they and you live long healthy and happy lives!:pray::grouphug:
:yell: I think it is so sad the amount of people who think its ok to drop cats off wherever and expect them to just survive.:frustrated:
September 10th, 2007, 02:37 PM
I would trap them, neuter them and set them up in the barn. If they're not spayed or neutered, you're only going to end up with a much bigger problem. If you feed them and they have the barn for shelter, they'll be a lot better off than they were before.
September 10th, 2007, 02:54 PM
Definitely trap and spay/neuter to control the population. Not all cats are good hunters and winter can be deadly if there is not enough prey around for those who can hunt. Maybe your vet can give you a discount considering the good you are doing.
As long as they have shelter that they can get out of the wind and can curl up in, they should be able to withstand most winter conditions.
You sound like an :angel: to try to help these cats.
September 11th, 2007, 02:37 AM
I live in a similar sort of circumstance i.e. country/barn/feral cats...although I sure envy you all that land (our 'property' is laughably lillipution :rolleyes:). For the first few years, we just saw the odd cat passing through-aside from one obviously dumped young cat we adopted.
However, last year a feral momcat raised 3 kittens in an outbuilding just off our land; I was able to livetrap/s & or n/return the mom and pop (they were dedicated ferals), and also nab the 3 kittens...who then became our housecats, over time!
It is possible to ignore feral cats, BUT then you are very likely to end up with more and more cats over the years-whether or not you feed them. That was one big motivation for me in getting a handle on our little feral population last summer.
As it sounds like you are a pretty compassionate and responsible person, I'd try the livetrap/S & N thing if you can; I was VERY :eek: intimidated by that whole concept before I went through it a few times, but there's good advice posted above.
I received a ton of support, advice and encouragement from folks on this BB when I was panicking!! my way through my initial feral experiences :thumbs up, so you are not alone out there!! If you haven't already sourced the Alley Cat Allies website, google them; it's an American organization with serious information/advice...real pros, vs. my amateur self.
Depending on where you live-as suggested in an above post-there may also be a local cat rescue group. I didn't find any help from the SPCA etc., as my neck of the woods doesn't even have a humane society type shelter. Also, it took me a while to find a local place that was kind enough to lend me a livetrap (takes some phone calls); I finally bought one of my own, and can still borrow one if needed.
Whatever the specifics of your situation, we all applaud your concern :angel: and willingness to help the ferals on your land have a better, safer life. I've livetrapped/neutered/vaccinated 3 tomcats who all took off ASAP (can't think why!), but my original feral momcat has been around for over a year now.
At first, I didn't see her all that often; after her 'TNR' vet clinic experience she really held a grudge for a while, but this past summer she's been a constant. (DH built a shelter and feeding station for her last fall; she didn't use the shelter all the time, but she always showed up for the cuisine).
While momcat/Wee Wilhelmina ranged quite a distance around the neigbourhood last year, lately she seems content to hang around here much more. I keep the food coming, as I figure it gives her less reason to roam, and less motivation to kill birds; she is actually a tad portly now, although I keep tabs on her 'running ability'...don't want to handicap the poor gal :cat: .
I really hope that things work out for you as well as they have here-so far :fingerscr . With outside cats, there's always an element of risk (which is why our other 5 cats are all indoor...we're also very close to a busy highway), but we just have to do our best with the ferals.
We don't have coyotes too close, as a rule, but we did have a badger family make their home here right when the feral kittens were very young; they hunted the cats, but thankfully momcat was on the ball (and we intervened very slightly...badgers are protected in our area).
Sorry for the essay, but I've become kind of feral advocate-ish, and just want to encourage you as much as possible. Keep posting, and let us know how things go-we're just a computer hook-up away!! :D
September 11th, 2007, 08:49 AM
Of course the trap, neuter, find a home suggestions are best but not always economically feasible or well received by the cats.
If you feed them, WATER too is extremely important, and provide warm winter housing they may live longer. But you can't quit, or take a holiday because they will come to depend on the food. I suggest you do not feed or house too close to your own home in order to prevent an influx of strays which may fight with your own animals or bring in disease. Not to mention the fighting, screaming and yowling between constantly changing members of the feral cat community. And the kittens which will likely appear. You have seen two cats but I would bet there are more you haven't seen yet and maybe never will. For that reason you can't be sure who is getting the food, cats, skunks, foxes, coyotes or stray dogs.
A search for feral cat shelters will give you some good ideas. We have made cozy beds in bales of straw, lined with loose straw and further lined with thick wool sweaters obtained at thrift stores and successfully over-wintered (we get the odd -40 but -15 to -20C is more usual) a couple of ferals/strays.