"Today is National Feral Cat Day," my friend Cyndie informed me yesterday, "Be sure to give Sir Hiss some extra tuna to celebrate!"
Who is Sir Hiss? He is the kitten I have been "growing" in my backyard. It's been several months now that I have been feeding him on a daily basis in the hopes that he'll let me get close enough to touch him. Actually, I think I've been conned into feeding him by his mother.
He is such a cute kitten and I think his mother has taught him to exploit this quality. He sits on the patio in my backyard and meows plaintively at me, while his mother watches on from the hedge, out of sight. I must be an easy mark because all that meowing makes me want to run into the house, grab cat food and bring it out to him. He lets me get pretty close but he won't let me touch him. The minute I turn around and walk away, mom jumps out of the bushes and joins him in the feast that I've provided.
I want to trap Sir Hiss while he is still small and try to socialize him so he can be a house cat. However, since we already have two cats, I need to have him tested to make sure he does not have any diseases he could pass along to my own house cats. As for his mom, I am convinced she is a feral cat. I am willing to trap her, get her fixed at a feral cat clinic and return her to my backyard. If I am unable to bring Sir Hiss into my home, I'll try to find him a home or consider letting him live a feral life in my back yard as well.
So yes, I'm celebrating a belated National Feral Cat Day. Let me share with you more information about this day:
Alley Cat Allies will honor National Feral Cat Day (NFCD), October 16, to remind people that Trap‐Neuter‐Return and other humane programs for feral catsare in the best interest of the cats and the community.
Feral cats are members of the domestic cat species, but they cannot be adopted into homes. They live outdoors in family groups called colonies. Trap‐Neuter‐Return is the best course of action for feral cats, because it ends the breeding cycle and stops behaviors associated with mating.
National Feral Cat Day was launched in 2001 by Alley Cat Allies, the national advocate for feral and stray cats and a recognized authority on Trap‐Neuter‐Return—a program in which cats who live outdoors are humanely trapped and brought to a veterinarian to be evaluated, spayed or neutered and vaccinated.
Cats that have undergone the procedure are eartipped—while under anesthesia, a small portion of the left ear is painlessly removed for identification. Friendly cats and kittens are put up for adoption.
“We applaud persons and organizations for their work to educate their neighbors about the benefits of programs that rely on Trap‐Neuter‐Return and the use of humane deterrents to ensure that people and outdoor cats get along peacefully,” said Becky Robinson, president of Alley Cat Allies.
Robinson noted that scientific evidence as well as decades of hands‐on experience show that Trap‐Neuter‐Return is more humane than programs that rely on catch and kill. It is also more effective, because it stops intact cats who evade capture from breeding and starting the cycle all over again, a phenomenon known as the vacuum effect.
“The cost of catch and kill is too high, and not only in terms of dollars,” said Robinson. “Being killed in an animal pound or shelter is the leading documented cause of death for cats in the United States.”
For more information about National Feral Cat Day, see www.alleycat.org/NFCD.