A feral cat is a cat that was either born in the wild, or has not spent any time with humans. In the wild, feral cats often live together in large “colonies”, generally by a food source, such as a dumpster. Sometimes animal rescuers will “adopt” a colony. They will feed the cats, and monitor the colony to make sure any new additions are spayed or neutered. This is an effective way to control the population of feral cats, because as the cats pass away, the colony slowly disappears.
Feral cats are very fearful of humans. MHAA has about 40 feral cats. The cats have usually come in as nursing mothers to kittens, or because they were found ill and could not survive in the wild. Fortunately, most feral cats can be socialized to interact with humans. When they are socialized, the cats learn to trust humans and enjoy their company, and then the cats can be adopted.
Our Feral Friends Program is designed to help feral cats living at MHAA. A feral cat will be assigned to a staff member, volunteer, or community service person. When you come and visit the shelter, this is “your cat.” We will teach you how to socialize the cat by talking to it, sitting with it, giving it treats and other attention. We may assign you a cat who is very frightened, or a cat that just needs extra attention but is starting to trust people already. Socializing a cat can take a long time, but it is very rewarding when you see the cat begin to trust you. Often, after spending a lot of time with your feral friend, they will recognize you. They will begin to enjoy your visits, even if they are still afraid of the other people in the shelter. To be assigned a cat for the Feral Friends Program, speak with Heather Arnold, the Shelter Manager, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.