Feral cats are plentiful wherever there are people. Unaltered companion cats who are abandoned produce kittens who grow up without human contact, living in sheds, barns or warehouses. They are basically wild animals in the middle of human society. In their struggle to survive in our world, they can be bothersome for some people and heartbreaking for others. Feral cats are not dangerous, they’re timid creatures who hide when people are around. It’s a hard life. Food is scarce, and disease and predators are a big risk. We get many calls from people who report seeing a cat living nearby and raising a litter of kittens with no one to care for them. If adult feral cats are trapped, altered and returned to the places they consider home, they can live out their lives in peaceful co-existence with each other and the neighbourhood if someone is prepared to put food out for them regularly. The kittens, we try to socialize and adopt out. When a neighbourhood is unable or unwilling to co-exist with feral cats, Katie’s Place rescues as many as possible, arranging to trap the cats and take them to the vet for a check up and altering. Many have been relocated to new, safer colonies. We are always looking for property owners willing to support a couple of feral cats and able to enclose them for a few weeks. They must be confined until they’ve bonded with the property. Then they can be given access to the outdoors while food continues to be supplied regularly.
These two feral cats, Delta Dawn and Ivanhoe, arrived separately but became inseparable friends.
Our feral colony was created when a volunteer bought a large piece of property outside of town. Katie’s Place tried to save every feral who was at risk, but they needed more than the shelter could offer them in the way of space. Feral cats who were accustomed to fairly large ranges were now confined to a room and a porch. For younger ferals who could live up to 20 years as indoor cats it was a depressing prospect. We urgently needed space for them and we were delighted when our volunteer said her new place could accommodate them.
The property was ideal with a fence, lots of trees and natural hiding areas, and a little cabin in a meadow at the tree line that was renovated with insulation and a screened porch. We chose the feral cats who would live there: adults from rural areas who had strong bonds with each other and a history of being fed by humans. Once they were in their new cabin, we kept them confined there until they were bonded with their new property. Then the volunteer opened the cat door giving them the option of going outside. They quickly discovered the way in and out, and the volunteer could now see them sunning themselves in the meadow. The volunteer keeps the cabin stocked with food, water and clean litter pans at all times. It’s always there for them. They may not live as long as they would if they spent their entire lives indoors, but they’re living as they would choose to live.
The cabin is a safe home base for the feral cats.
We also have a colony of feral rabbits on the property. Katie’s Place had taken on a family of feral rabbits that had become a nuisance to the workers at Colony Farm, and they were well suited to life on the property. They’re adult feral rabbits from a rural location, they’re a well-bonded family group, and we’d had them all spayed/neutered. The best location on the property was chosen for their release, allowing for denning, cover, protection, fencing, food, water location and continued monitoring. Hutches were strategically placed for further protection. Like the feral cats, the feral rabbits are enjoying their freedom with all the protection and support that can be offered.
The volunteer caring for the feral bunnies said, “I give them one or two apples every day but they seem quite content eating grasses etc. They don’t seem to mind the other animals. They don’t run when they see them. One of the cats seems to actually prefer their company to the other cats.”