2001-Thu Feb 21 13:18:35 EST 2019
Vetstreet. All rights reserved. Powered by Brightspot.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
Can feral felines ever come home? That’s the question I constantly ask myself when confronted with yet another snarling cat freaking out in the back of one of those have-a-heart cat-friendly traps I keep in my backyard shed.
They’re all teeth and claws at the outset — almost uniformly. It’s enough to make you want to do a spay/neuter, and release them back where they came from.
Why so harsh? These are not your average house cats. They are no cuddlesome balls of fur. And hell hath no fury like a properly motivated feline — hence the desire to release them as soon as possible.
But sometimes we don’t — because sometimes we can’t.
Consider the case of the feral cat whose fractured leg or fan belt injury requires longer-term incarceration than the standard TNR (trap-neuter-release) candidate.
Or ponder this scenario: A tiny, 8-month-old, black female kitten had been left at my place one Saturday by one of my TNR partners in crime (a very sweet but deeply destitute client) with the expectation that the cat would get spayed on Monday.
Unfortunately, this spitfire queen from hell made it impossible for me to remove her from her trap, so she could enjoy a more comfortable spot on a cushy blankie while she awaited her procedure. (Just so you know, I sustained a bloody scratch as part of this futile process.) Instead, the most that I could do was toss in some food and water a couple of times a day — and hope for the best.
Come Monday morning, it became evident that any hope I might have harbored for an expedient end to our relationship via ovariohysterectomy was not to be. She had birthed five, all white kittens, with teensy gray markings atop their heads. And — get this — they're all boys!
This is why I’ve had a feral kitty living in my home for the past five weeks, with all those adorable kittens in tow.
So how exactly have I managed to keep a wild animal in my son’s bathroom? With great trepidation, and not without significant effort!
Feral cats can often be brought into the fold of general human companionship and even close conviviality.
According to the dictionary definition of “feral” as applied to cats, it means reverting to an untamed state from one of domestication. In other words, these are felines who, having lost contact with humans for whatever reason, took up with their own and formed social communities devoid of direct human contact.
But what we call feral cats in suburban enclaves like mine — highly populated South Florida — typically don’t fall under that definition. Not exactly. That’s because most of them depend, to a large extent, on the humans who feed them, thereby taking vital social cues from this positive interaction.
As a result, some feral cats seem relatively tame, while those who are more removed from human company will act more like wild animals than house cats.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
Bartonella is a type bacteria that can be transmitted to cats, dogs and humans from exposure to infected fleas and…
Want to give your pup yummy, low-calorie treats? We’ve got the skinny on which foods are OK to feed him.
Not sure about food puzzles? Our veterinarian reveals why the payoff for your pet is well worth any extra work.
With these simple dental care tips, you can help keep your canine’s adorable smile shiny and healthy for life.
The friendly and inquisitive LaPerm has an easy-care coat that comes in a variety of colors and patterns.
Check out our collection of more than 250 videos about pet training, animal behavior, dog and cat breeds and more.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.