Feral Cats: How to Manage Them & Barn Rescue Programs

March 25, 2022 2 min read

Originally domesticated in 7,500 B.C., cats have been a part of people’s lives for thousands of years. While domesticated cats grace us with their presence and companionship, there are undomesticated cats roaming the streets on every continent except Antarctica.

Often dubbed ‘feral’ or ‘community’ cats, these are cats that have no concept of human relationship. Left unchecked, the feral cat populations can explode as they eat everything from food scraps to rodents and birds.

What is a Feral Cat?

A feral cat can be the descendant of a domesticated cat that has grown up in the wild with no human interaction. Unsurprisingly, feral cats have a shorter lifespan than their domestic counterparts due to disease, accidents, and malnutrition.

According to the VCA Animal Hospital, there are 100 million feral cats worldwide and 60 million feral cats in the United States. If trapped, feral cats can be evaluated for domestication. Some are more receptive than others, and young kittens have the best chance of being domesticated.

Feral Cat Management

The feral cat problem will never completely go away. With cats continually reproducing, it is an ongoing battle to manage populations and improve the quality of life for cats who cannot be domesticated.

The most widely used feral cat management program is ‘Trap, Neuter and Release’ (TNR). The process of TNR is as follows:

  1. Cats are trapped using live catch cages by professionals
  2. Cats are immunized against certain diseases including rabies
  3. Cats are dewormed
  4. Cats are treated for fleas and ticks
  5. Cats are spayed or neutered
  6. One of the cats’ ears are tipped to identify them as a ‘reformed’ citizen
  7. Cats are released to an appropriate location

Find a local TNR program by searching ‘Local Feral Cat Rescue’ in your search engine of choice.

How To Acclimate a New Feral Cat

TNR programs are effective, but their success is primarily based on the release location. Feral cats can be released to their original home turf, but sometimes they need to find a new residence. The term ‘barn cat’ is used loosely, since businesses with warehouses, junkyards, auto shops, grain facilities, and storage units can benefit from the organic rodent control cats provide.

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