Feral Cats Belong Outdoors

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We know it can be tough to see a beautiful cat outdoors—you wish she were inside getting cuddles. But really, she doesn’t want that at all. Community cats aren’t homeless. Their home is the outdoors, and just like you, they don’t want to be taken from their homes. While you might have the time and resources to dedicate to adopting out a socialized community cat, unsocialized cats, also called feral cats, never belong indoors. A feral cat belongs one place—outside.

“Feral” is a way to describe where cats fall on the spectrum of socialization. Because they’re not socialized to people, feral cats are not adoptable. This means if you take them to a shelter, they will almost certainly be killed there. Just because the shelter isn’t an option doesn’t mean you should bring the cats into your home. The cats won’t be happy there, and they will probably make you unhappy as well! Taking the cats away from their home and into confinement is stressful, confinement is stressful. Luckily, there’s an option that’s good for everyone: Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR).

Trap-Neuter-Return is a win for everyone involved. The cats’ health improves, and they become better neighbors. There are no more kittens, and mating behaviors like spraying, fighting, and yowling decrease or disappear entirely. Another great effect of TNR is that the size of colonies stabilizes quickly, and then lowers over time.

You can also take comfort knowing feral cats are happy and healthy outdoors. You may hear some individuals or groups claim that community cats are suffering. In reality, feral cats live full, healthy lives outdoors. They low rates of disease just like pet cats, and their lifespans are about the same, too. Their body weights are healthy, and rarely do TNR programs come across a community cat that requires genuine euthanasia. Sure, living outdoors has different risks than indoor living, but science tells us that community cats thrive outdoors.

Not only do they do well outdoors, but their presence is totally natural. They’re part of the ecosystem. Cats have lived outdoors, near people, for a long time. A really long time. We’re talking before the pyramids were built! You might hear from folks who are concerned about cats’ impact on wildlife, and you might even have some concerns about that yourself. The important thing to know is that the whole “cats vs. birds” thing isn’t a battle at all. It’s actually birds vs. humans and cats vs. shelters. We advocate for the well-being of all animals, and we want to save the birds, too!

Community cats are happy, healthy, normal parts of the environment, and there’s no need to seek out an alternative for them. We know that the proposed alternatives simply don’t work—only TNR works. Feral cats don’t belong inside. They belong in their outdoor homes.

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