by Maria Rivera

Photo courtesy of JD

Image Description: Sweetie (left) and Bandit (right) enjoying a wet food meal on the front porch.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, approximately 80% of the kitten population comes from unfixed feral and stray cats. This leaves neighborhoods and cities overflowing with cats without homes, and if left unchecked can result in overwhelmed shelters, rescues, and foster homes.

Many people take it upon themselves to help manage cat populations, often feeding the cats, housing the cats, or turning them in to someone who will potentially find them a home. This strategy has proved to be successful, but unfortunately not every cat is guaranteed a home.

Feral cats are often the offspring of abandoned cats that have had limited to no contact with people, and the result leaves them timid and typically untamable. Stray cats are abandoned cats that may have grown up in a home but were left behind or lost. While this can be heartbreaking to think about, there has become a way for outdoor cat populations to be managed without losing hope.

The process called Trap Neuter Return (TNR) allows a less expensive and successful option for handling this overflow of loose kitties. Groups will work with shelters to trap loose cats, spay or neuter them, administer vaccines, and if the cat proves friendly enough adopt them out. If there are loose cats in your area, the best way to identify if TNR happened is with a surgically clipped ear.

Photo courtesy of JD

Image Description: Sweetie at the back door looking inside the glass. If you look closely, her left ear is missing the tip. This is a sign of TNR.

Locally, many people enjoy helping these cats out. Wag! created a list of essentials to take care of loose cats. In short, the following is what you need:

  • Housing
  • Wet food
  • Fresh water
  • TNR

JD, a local caretaker for outdoor cats, takes care of 5 in her neighborhood. Sweetie, Baby Gray, Bandit, Black Panther, and Brutus love to come by for their dinner every night. She first saw Bandit (a black and white cat) about 1 ½ years ago in her backyard, and felt bad that he looked hungry. Within a short amount of time Sweetie and Baby Gray came around, and Sweetie has certainly made her presence known. She likes to peer into the house and watch JD’s family during dinner time while waiting for her own. Sweetie trusts JD enough to appreciate attention and enjoys getting pet.

Photo courtesy of JD

Image Description: Sweetie is walking down the sidewalk, turned towards the camera.

Taking care of these cats ensures that roaming issues are under control, they have less need to eat other animals and birds, and avoids death by starvation (which brings about fights, noises, and spraying).

Now that it’s winter it’s important to consider setting up places for the cats to stay warm and sleep through the cold. Outdoor cat boxes can be a great method, and made with cheap and accessible materials. Below will be links to informative videos and instructions to making them.

DIY Outdoor Cat Shelter

How to build a winter cat shelter | BC SPCA

Building Winter Shelters for Community Cats

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