Feeding feral cats is a good idea if you’re planning on trapping and fixing them, it’s a bad idea if you aren’t.
We need to look at the issue of feeding feral cats in a lot more depth, especially when it comes to determining whether or not it is legal…so let’s start there.
Is it legal to feed feral cats where you live?
Before you do anything else, you need to find out whether you will be breaking the law for being compassionate. That’s the way I see it anyway. It may be hard for many to believe, but feeding bans are in effect in many places and people have even gone to jail!
Don’t let this scare or deter you, but do make sure to learn all you can beforehand.
Search “is it legal to feed feral cats in NAME OF CITY OR TOWN” to get you started.
Call your local shelter, animal control facility or police department and ask if there are laws regarding the care of feral cats. Call me paranoid but I wouldn’t want to give my name or contact details because I would feel they would be keeping an eye on me. No I don’t feel people are watching me, but because passions run particularly high about this issue, I would rather not be on anyone’s radar.
Read this – “Key Legal Issues to Consider”
It’s legal…now what?
Good news!! You can care for the cats without getting into trouble with the law. Neighbours is another story, but this article “How to Deal With Neighbours Who Hate Feral Cats” will help.
It isn’t enough to just feed feral cats
While I understand the heartbreak of seeing feral cats and kittens running around and the instinct to feed them, that is not helpful. Okay, giving a hungry animal something to eat is helpful, but if you continue to feed them you will attract more. They will then start breeding and you will not only have a lot more mouths to feed, you will probably have a lot of angry neighbours too!
By all means feed them, but please trap, fix and continue to care for them when they return. This is called TNR (trap-neuter-return, some call it trap-neuter-release but it all means the same thing.)
Where will you feed them?
Do it where they hang out, or relatively close. If it’s your property there’s no worry, but if they’re behind a building or in an industrial park for example, you’ll need to find out who owns or manages it and get permission.
Before you start knocking on doors, familiarise yourself with TNR – what it involves, how and why it works, tips on dealing with those who disagree etc… You’ll also want to speak specifically on what you’re going to be doing – feeding, building a shelter, leaving water… Having the answers to these questions increases the likelihood they’ll give a thumbs up to your request. Please, please be nice and friendly and address all their concerns.
Ground, bowls or feeding stations?
There is no hard and fast rule about that, but what you choose may depend on location, help or resistance you encounter, budget and perhaps even time. People I know put food directly on the ground or use bowls. A feeding station may be an option, again depending on the factors I just mentioned. You can –
- Build one
- Buy one ready made
- Use a large container like a Rubbermaid for example.
If you’ll be using a container, the hole should be big enough to allow more than one cat in, or make a hole at either end. Too small and one cat will prevent the others from accessing the food. Some bricks or rocks on top or inside corners will keep it stable.
What to feed feral cats
My best advice is to buy the best quality you can afford. If you’re feeding a lot of kitties food goes quickly, so always stay mindful of your budget. Some people try and improve the quality of less than great food by adding things like boiled chicken, tuna, cooked sweet potato, green beans…
Compare prices online, and visit your local pet supply or box stores that sell cat food. Speak to the manager and mention you’re caring for feral cats. You never know, they may offer a discount or even free food as a way to help. Businesses know customers are increasingly supporting companies practicing social responsibility.
That will depend on the time and resources you have. If you’re doing this alone and have a busy schedule, once a day may be all you can manage. If that’s the case you may be tempted to leave a huge pile of food to last them until the next day. Be aware that may attract all kinds of animals into the colony, and that’s inviting complaints.
Do your best to keep the feeding area as hidden from public view as possible. That may be challenging where you are, but get creative with helping it blend into the landscape. Be sure you have easy access though!
Keep the area clean
We want as many people onboard with our TNR and care efforts as possible, and leaving plates, tins and other garbage behind does not help our cause. Other than leaving a water bowl behind (camouflaged as much as possible), throw everything away.
You’ll always encounter nay sayers (and worse) when it comes to the topic of feral cats. Passions run high on both sides of the argument, so if you decide feeding, fixing and caring for them is something you want to do I commend you. Find others to pitch in if you can. It not only helps you feel less alone and can be safer, the more people involved the faster we can get these out of control populations under control.
Do you feed cats? What do you feed them and where? Do you have any tips or advice that has worked well for you? I would love for you to share them as I know it will help others, please do so in the comments below.
Please help support my spay/neuter campaign by donating and sharing. You can find all the details on my GoFundMe page.