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The Feral Mystique


The Humane Society of the United States estimates (a nearly impossible task) that there are some 50 million cats in this country living on their own under the designated category of "feral".  This is approximately the same number as that who live as "companion animals" with humans.  Why there are so many and from where they originate are often misunderstood facts.  Are they truly wild animals?  Do they pose a health risk to the general public?  Is extermination of colonies the answer?

The truth is, a feral cat is not a wild animal.  The best working definition is that he is a cat born into a colony away from all human contact (the wild), of parents who were born in the wild, of parents who were born in the wild.  Thus, being at least three generations removed and living on his own, it can be understandable that some wish to label him as "wild".

Feral colonies begin when stray and abandoned cats start to band together, for shelter, warmth, and food.  It may also be for companionship and "day care" of kittens while mothers (like lionesses) are away hunting.  Although there are exceptions, in general, a truly feral cat will not revert to becoming a loving "house pet."  Nor, should they be forced into such a role.  This means that virtually 100% of all feral cats trapped and taken to shelters by Animal Control personnel will be immediately killed.

The right of feral colonies to exist has often led to contentious arguments, mostly based upon ignorance and lack of information.  At times, states have even gone as far as threatening to make feeding of colonies an illegal act!  Courageously however, this has not fazed those who care for the colonies in their neighborhood.

In this session of Feline-Human Relations 101, we will delve into the world of the feral cat, his psyche, and his aversion to human contact.  Like each homeless person on the streets, every cat has his story of how he came to need the support of a colony.  We will dispel the myths associated with public health issues, cat population control, and the "crazy cat-lady" who feeds the hoards every day of her life.

During the second hour in accordance with our meeting format, time will be available to address any questions or situations related to cats that individuals are experiencing and have brought to this group for advice and, where possible, resolution.


Reference Video (16 minutes):


PLEASE NOTE: Much of the information presented in Feline-Human Relations 101 is widely accepted and practiced throughout the feline rescue community. Other recommendations are derived from the experience and knowledge of the instructor. However, in neither case are guarantees stated or implied that these methods will work 100% of the time.


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  • Angela C.

    It's amazing the number of questions people have about feral cats. So many want to help and don't know what to do. I think Roger did a good job of trying to cover the basic material and address all the individual questions and concerns. Cat people can get quite passionate and it takes some skill to moderate things..

    February 21, 2012

  • Pauline

    Always a good learning experience for me, and in friendly company. I am a happy camper!

    February 6, 2012

  • Helen H.

    I really learned a lot at this meeting (my second) and the meeting has been discussed with friends and information shared. It's given me lots to think about and a new appreciation of my own cat and the woes of others who struggle to survive. Thank you, Roger, for sticking to your agenda and not letting us get too distracted.

    Helen Harvey

    February 6, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Very good as usual. I learned a lot about food and nutrition for cats. The structure of the meeting itself could have been a little better. As I understand it, the first hour should be reserved for the "lecture" and the second hour for a more uustructured interaction. Instead we had more or less of a free for all from the start.

    February 6, 2012

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