October 16 is National Feral Cat Day — a day to think about the outdoor cats in our neighborhoods. Feral cats exist in every community. They live healthy lives outdoors in family groups called colonies. They are the same species as domestic cats but are not socialized to humans and can’t be adopted. Virtually 100 percent of feral cats brought to shelters or pounds are killed there. In fact, shelters are the leading cause of death for the nation’s cats.
Our community should know that Trap-Neuter-Return for feral cats is a win for the cats and their human neighbors. Santa Barbara County–based Catalyst for Cats uses Trap-Neuter-Return to improve the lives of the cats. Trap-Neuter-Return makes feral cats healthier and ends the breeding cycle, which means no more kittens. It also ends a lot of common behaviors associated with outdoor cats. Yowling, fighting, spraying, and roaming — all of these are mating behaviors that stop once a cat is neutered.
A managed Trap-Neuter-Return program, with a set feeding area and schedule, further discourages roaming. Simple home remedies — citrus peels, decorative rocks, or chicken wire — deter cats from digging in gardens. There are also a few useful commercial products available at most pet shops that humanely deter cats from areas like gardens and porches.
Outdoor cats have been part of our landscape for thousands of years, and always will be. Compassionate and effective solutions to help cats and communities coexist peacefully are readily available. I urge you to visit catalystforcats.org for more information. We are here to make our community a better place.