Cat Care & Advice

Feral Cat Alert


These two rescued kittens and their four brothers and sisters were born in a garden in early Spring. Their mother, an abandonded domestic cat, was spayed by our charity and all found good homes. If left to breed, the mother could have had another two or more litters that year, a total of 12-18 kittens of her own; her female offspring would have started to breed themselves after they reached the age of six months.

Did you know that one unspayed abandoned cat can be responsible for a colony of 20-30 feral cats in one year? Let’s stop this from happening!


CAT ACTION TRUST 1977 was founded to help feral cats and kittens. We are a Registered Charity run entirely by volunteers and opposed to killling for convenience. Our policy of homing kittens and tame cats, and neutering adult cats (which are often returned to their site) is successful because it is humane, and cost effective because it is long-lasting. [Caring for a feral mother cat and her kittens]


Feral cats need humans who care

It is a myth that feral cats can take care of themselves. Although they are natural hunters, feral cats rely on humans to supply food, shelter and the neutering service, just like their domestic relatives. Cats which scrounge a meagre existence from hunting and scavenging will be undernourished and sickly, but they will still breed and, in spite of high kitten mortality, the colony will continue to grow.



Feral cats need at least one good meal every day in order to remain healthy. This also applies to the so called “working” cats kept on farms and in factories, hospitals etc to catch rats and mice. Most feral cats living in gardens have one or two committed feeders and may also receive scraps from people who prefer to put out their left-over food for them rather than waste it. Provided this food is not too spicy, it can add to a good and varied diet. Fresh water must always be available.



Bones – both fish and fowl – can get stuck in a cat’s mouth, throat or abdomen and can kill. We have had to catch feral cats just in order to carry out life-saving operations to remove these bones. All bones must be removed from food left out for cats.



Cats which huddle together in damp, draughty corners of garages and sheds are prone to colds, cat flu, eye and lung infections which may lead to blindness and death. CAT ACTION TRUST 1977 has a simple and effective solution to this problem. THE IGLOO is easily made up from two polystyrene salmon boxes and provides ideal cat shelter all year round – see leaflet.



If left unchecked a feral cat colony quickly grows out of all proportion to the resources available and this over-population means many cats die of starvation or disease, in fights or through accidents. Neutering is therefore of paramount importance to control the numbers of feral cats. Neutered females will be healthier because their bodies have stopped producing kittens, and neutered males will stop yowling, spraying, fighting and transmitting viral cat diseases through biting. For the same reasons we recommend that domestic pets are also neutered.


Ear tipping

So that feral cats which have been neutered can be easily recognised, UFAW (the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare) recommend an ‘ear-tip’. This is the painless removal of a small section of the tip of the left ear and is performed under anaesthetic by a vet. [See our article – A veterinary view on ear-tipping]


Please help us with our campaign

Irresponsible people are adding to the feral cat population when they fail to neuter their cats,and then cruelly abandon them. To improve the situation we need your help to spread the neutering message. Our leaflet ‘Why we have our cats neutered’, will help you to convince others.

If you know of a homeless or feral cat, please make sure it is neutered as soon as possible, and before it produces kittens. In either case charities like ours will help with trapping and costs.

If you hear of a litter of kittens please find help urgently. Some people watch kittens playing for several weeks before they approach us for help and by then the kittens are big and running wild, hard to tame and we are less likely to be able to take them in and find them permanent homes.

Our Charity, which is funded entirely by donations, subscriptions, legacies and bequests, urgently needs your help.


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