When the word Feral is used to describe a cat, what does this mean?

Feral catWe hear the term thrown often but many people don’t know what it really means. Basically, it is when a cat is untamed, wild, and free, unlike our domesticated cats kept as pets.

How does a cat become feral?

There are a number of ways in which a cat, domesticated or not, can become a feral animal. They could have been dumped by their owners in which case they are left to fend for themselves. They could have been born into the feral world by a parent who had been living on the streets. They could have escaped from their home and become lost. There are a large amount of cats that are living on the street. Sometimes called Alley Cats, they are wild and untamed, as they need to be in order to live on the streets and survive. Their natural born instincts set in and they become undomesticated, wild. This is via no fault of their own.

How is awareness being raised?

Last month, National Feral Cat Awareness Day happened on October 16th. The goal of this day is to raise awareness, enlist support, and lift up the numbers in the volunteer role. Feral cats need our help and there are a variety of ways in which you can support this cause.

Many rescue groups favor the TNR program when it comes to helping reduce the population of feral cats. TNR stands for Trap, Neuter & Release. This method is touted as being a fantastic way, in which we can not only show kindness and help the feral population, but actually make a dent in the population numbers. When the cats are neutered this cuts down drastically with the reproduction of litters and additional cats being born into the feral role.

Knoxville Support for Feral CatsCat under Fence

Locally, the Feral Feline Friends of East Tennessee, is a local organization dedicated to the care of feral cats.  According to Feral Feline Friends, members of their group work on a volunteer basis to feed, water, and provide medical care for hundreds of feral cats in Knoxville and surrounding areas.   So far this year, they have trapped, neutered, and released over 1200 cats and kittens in the area!  They meet the 2nd Tuesday of every month at Mr.Gatti’s Pizza, 6909 Kingston Pike at 7pm, and any one is welcome to join to find out more.  They need fosters and volunteers!  More information can be found on their website.

photo credit: Feral cat c via photopin (license)
photo credit: Stray Cat Overfelt Garden via photopin (license)