What does it mean to take care of a feral cat colony?
· Daily food and water
· Providing the process of trap, spay/neuter, and return (with ear tipped); also known as TNR
· Shelter from the elements
· Monitoring health concerns by "arranging veterinary care when available or [for] humane euthanasia as needed," Behler says.
· Rabies vaccinations kept up to date, which is required legally by most states or communities (Note that rabies vaccinations need to be boosted on a set schedule so unless this is an old cat nearing its end, you're going to be doing this periodically.)
· Vaccines (other than rabies, to prevent feline specific diseases such as feline leukemia virus)
· Parasite prevention medication
· Care for litters of kittens that are born to “pregnant females who were not trapped and altered in time, or females that are abandoned at the colony site,” Behler says.
· Finding indoor homes for any social or semi-social cats or kittens that are born in or abandoned at the colony site.
Why are there so many feral cats?
Many university students miss their animals and decide to adopt, but do not want or have the funds for spaying/neutering their animals. Often at the end of the school year animals and abandoned, students assuming someone will adopt them just leave them behind. Often these cats are frighten, not use to hunting for food and survive on trash. These cats multiply. Providing spay/neuter services is essential and education prospective pet owners.
Why ear tip?
The ear tip is a universal sign that the cat has been spayed/neutered and has often received important vaccinations. The ear tip is important because feral cats are unsocialized to humans and therefore un-adoptable without proper socialization. Feral cats that enter shelters are typically euthanized as already overcrowded shelters do not have the time to attempt to socialize a feral cat. The ear tip indicates that the cat can no longer reproduce and should be left in it’s habitat to live out it’s life.