What is a Ferrell Cat and What Can We Do About Them?
Ferrell cats or feral cats are simply the offspring of pet cats that have been abandoned or lost or the young of other ferrell cats that have not been neutered or spayed. A female cat can have a litter two or three times per year and her kittens will become ferrell if they do not have contact with people early on. Stray cats are typically used to having contact with people and become tame; however a ferrell cat is not accustomed to having close contact with humans and they will usually be too wild to handle. Stray cats can usually adapt to living with people quite easily, but a ferrell cat might never be able to assimilate into a life with people.
Typically a house cat that is kept indoors will live between 12 and 18 years, but a ferrell cat that makes it past its early months will usually only live for a couple of years if on its own and if part of a larger colony, the feral cat still only lives approximately 5 years.
Currently in the United States, there are approximately 60 million ferrell cats!
Ferrel cats will either live by themselves or more typically in a group called a colony. This colony needs two essential elements in order to survive, the first is a safe hiding place such as old abandoned buildings or cars and even small wooded areas, the colony will also need a source for food.
Many ferrell cats will not survive for long and if they do manage to survive, they live lives that are extremely hard. A female feral cat can become pregnant as early as 5 months old and can produce 2 or 3 litters each year. This ongoing process of being pregnant at such a young age as well as the added stress of delivering and caring for a litter puts the female cat at even greater danger because she is simply struggling to survive herself. More than 50% of the kittens will probably die if they do not receive some form of help from humans. It is not just the females who are at risk though; male cats also face tremendous obstacles. They roam around and fight other male cats in their pursuit of a mate as well as to defend their territory. This fighting will often result in injuries and diseases being transmitted through bites.
Another risk factor for ferrell cats is the fact that they usually have no reliable source for food or shelter. These cats deserve proper care just like any other kitten we might take as a pet. These animals are often victims of accidental loss, abandonment and owners who fail to spay or neuter their pets.
Trap-Neuter-Return, more commonly known as TNR provides an effective non-lethal method of dealing with the ferrell cat population while improving the quality of life for these cats at the same time. Ferrell cats which are TNRed will be spayed or neutered rendering them incapable of reproducing. They are then vaccinated against rabies and an ear is surgically tipped as a universal sign that the cat has been TNRed.
When a ferrell cat or a colony of feral cats has been successfully TNRed, they will need a dedicated caretaker to provide them with food, water and shelter. This caretaker will monitor the cats for any illness and will remove new ferrell cats to be TNRed. Without TNR and a committed caretaker, the ferrell cat colony would only continue to increase.The Problem with Ferrell Cats or Feral Cats,