Because stray cats were previously owned, they can often be re-socialized and adopted into loving homes. Feral cats have little chance of being socialized. If brought to a shelter, feral cats are almost always put down. The best chance of socializing a feral cat is in its first few months of life.
We don't like killing and we don't think killing feral cats is the answer. In fact, evidence supports the best way of addressing the feral cat issue is to adopt a TNR program.
TNR stands for Trap, Neuter and Return. Volunteers work with the community to trap the feral cats, get them spayed or neutered (and vaccinated!), and then return them to their colony where they are cared for by a colony caretaker. During the spay/neuter surgery, one of the cat's ears gets "tipped" to identify them as spayed or neutered. This is known as eartipping*.
TNR has been practiced around the world for years and is proven to stop the breeding cycle of cats and therefore improves their lives while preventing reproduction. Simply removing the cats and killing them leaves a void. They will ultimately be replaced with more feral cats.
Once spayed and neutered, feral cats no longer exhibit many of the problematic behaviours that are often associated with feral cat colonies - particularly fighting, yowling and spraying.
* Eartipping is a practice to permanently mark a feral cat that has been spayed or neutered. A very small tip of one of the cat's ears is removed while under sedation. The cat does not feel any pain and it doesn’t affect hearing at all. Eartipping allows volunteers to be able to quickly and easily identify cats who are already fixed. Clear identification avoids needless trapping and surgical procedures. Eartipping has become standard practice to mark a spayed or neutered feral because it works much better than any other method currently known.
Besides saving lives, you mean?
Georgina Feral Cat Committee is a dedicated group of volunteers whose goal is to work with the community to address the feral cat issue in the Town of Georgina. In summer of 2017, we have received support for the volunteer work we do by Georgina Town Council and we work under the auspices of Paws of Georgina.
Feral cats, stray cats and house cats are all the same species - they are all domestic cats. What is unique to each is their socialization to people.
- House cats are socialized to people.
- Stray cats were socialized to people but were abandoned or lost.
- Feral cats are the offspring of stray cats, have never been socialized to people and are therefore afraid of us.