How to help feral cats?

Stray cats

Cats that live apart from humans have serious difficulties to survive. Every day and every night is a challenge that can end their lives, no matter how old they are. Therefore, some measures need to be taken so that they can at least have something to fill their stomachs with.

But what are those measures? If you want to know how to help feral cats, or stray cats in general, I recommend that you take into account the following.

Check current regulations and laws

Here is one of the main challenges that volunteers face: the laws. In Spain, one of the countries where animals are most abandoned (it is estimated that around 200.000 dogs and cats end up on the streets and/or shelters each year) and where animals are mistreated (over 60.000, according to this article published on the Spanish Advocacy portal), there is a law that does not protect those who live in the wild: article 337.4. Said article punishes the mistreatment of animals, but only domestic and/or tamed animals.

Is a feral cat a domestic cat? If we look for the definition of domestic in any dictionary we can read something like this:

They are animals that can live with people, and even live in their homes.

The feral cat is often considered a wild animal, because he has not grown up with people and, in fact, he can become very afraid of them. However, It would not be unusual for that same feline to trust that human who brings him food, and/or that sooner or later she would approach him, or even allow herself to be caressed.

Is this really a wild animal? When I think of wild animals, those that live in their natural habitat come to mind: tigers in the Sumatran jungle, dolphins in the oceans, elephants in the African savannah. Any of them could end the life of a human being in an instant, because they are not animals that you can tame (unless, as Frank Cuesta famously said, you break their souls, using fear as a 'training' method).

But reality prevails. She always does. And whether we like it or not, in many towns and cities in Spain you can be fined for feeding cats that live on the streets. Fortunately, little by little they are giving cards, from the municipalities themselves, that allow the person who requests it to feed the animals in a totally legal way (some places where they already occur are Gijón, Madrid, or Cádiz). In other towns, for example, cards are not given, but you can feed them as long as it is not on public roads.

Provide care and attention

Sick stray cats

They are feral, street animals, but they cannot fend for themselves. For that to be the case, it would be necessary for them to live in their natural habitat; that is, on farms, prairies and open fields, not in a city or town where asphalt, noise and pollution are common elements.

Therefore, It is important that if you decide to help or take charge of a feline colony, you think very well if you are going to do it always or No.. They will get used to you over time, as they see you arrive with the food. They may even let you pet them at times when they trust you.

Thus, you will build a relationship of friendship with them. Is what you want? If so, you should know that it is best to give them dry feed, as this reduces dirt. In addition, especially during the summer, this is a food that remains intact longer, unlike wet feed, which can immediately attract flies and other insects.

Evidently they must also have fresh and clean water, or at least as clean as possible. One idea would be to put drinking fountains scattered around the area, hidden among bushes or in those points that are less accessible to people. If they don't have, You can make a shelter for them, for example with carriers or even cages that are no longer used, and place them in places where they are protected from rain and cold.

Last but not least, you will have to provide them, as much as possible, with veterinary care whenever necessary. Feral cats, even if they are on the street, must also be seen by a veterinarian, since they can also get sick. Furthermore, in order to prevent more kittens from being born in these conditions, you have to castrate the adults and take them back to the place where they live. That is the only effective way to control the population.

Feral cats can be incredible companions, but for this they require some care as we have seen in this article.

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