Feral cats are those cats who have either been born outside and never socialized with humans, or who have become strays or were abandoned and have reverted to some degree to an unsocialized state.
They are sometimes the direct result of irresponsible guardians failing to spay and neuter their companion cats, who then give birth outside where the kittens are not found. Sometimes they are the descendants of many generations of unsocialized cats. They are considered to be wild or untamed, lacking nearly all human contact or interaction and to varying degrees are fearful or cautious of humans.
It is widely estimated that between 50 to 70 million feral cats are living in the U.S. Where trap-neuter-return (TNR) programs are not present, feral cats breed out of control, continuing the cycle of homelessness.
Typically, municipal animal control agencies aren’t equipped to handle feral cats, and far too often their solution is to round them up and kill them. Extermination of these untamed, but otherwise healthy cats, is neither fair or humane, nor does it effectively address the concerns associated with feral cats.
Fortunately, there is a growing movement to stop the killing. Animal control agencies, non-profits (including In Defense of Animals), and individuals are working all over the US on TNR programs which have been proven to effectively and humanely lower feral cat populations. Viewing the cats as “Community Cats” rather than as just “ferals” also fosters a kinder regard for them.
With the help of our rescue partners, IDA works year-round on feral cat issues through our regional offices in Portland, Oregon and Los Angeles. We provide vital TNR services to hundreds of feral/community cats each year, and also work to socialize the kittens and facilitate their adoptions to caring guardians.