Took a little break from the blog, but I’M BACK! I’ve been focusing on some very exciting new things for Coastal Cat Care including our *new* house cleaning service and an online CCC store that will be coming to our website soon! Book your cleaning service here and feel free to leave a comment below with anything you’d like to see in the store!
This blog post I wanted to talk a little about feeding feral cats! You’d be surprised at how often our cat sitting duties include feeding client's outdoor kitties, too! Outdoor kitties enjoy their routine just as much as their indoor counterparts. Kitties will even start to recognize our cars pulling into the neighborhood and will wave our cars in like the true vehicle marshals they are.
There are a few different categories of outdoor cats:
The Stealth Artists: You never see them, but the dry food bowl is always empty and the water bowl has bits of dry food that have settled to the bottom after a post-meal drink.
The I’m-HUNGRY-Committee: They are nowhere in sight at first, but the second you go inside the home to care for the indoor kitties… they appear at the door/porch/window MEOWING at the top of their lungs waiting for their meal.
And lastly, The Regulars: I mentioned this group before… They know the scent of your cars emissions and are literally waiting in the middle of the road for you as you make your way down their street, careful to usher you into the correct driveway because dumb humans know nothing!!!
There are a few rules I follow when caring for outdoor kitties:
If the outdoor kitty decides to get friendly, let them give you leg rubs and meow to you, however I resist the urge to pet while working. For a couple of reasons… First, the last thing you need is the teeth of a feral, unvaccinated cat sinking deep into your hand or arm and getting put on antibiotics. Cats' mouths are riddled with bacteria! Secondly, outdoor kitties may have fleas that you could accidentally bring in to the indoor kitties.
If you do decide to get a pet in with an extra friendly outdoor feline, always wash your hands before you pet the indoor kitties. Some indoor cats can be reallllly sensitive to smells and/or territorial. There's nothing like being accosted by a typically friendly indoor cat simply because he has beef with kitties outside the home lol!
How much should you feed? Put out enough for about ½ cup dry food per cat. You can also supplement their food with wet food if you’d like.
Try not to leave food left out as it will attract bugs, if this is unavoidable, there are different types of bowls you can purchase to keep bugs at bay. Here is a great option for ant proof bowls.
If you decide to provide cat homes/coverings for your outdoor friends to protect them from inclement weather use hay as bedding. Cotton or blanket materials can retain water/moisture.
Protect yourself. If you’re going out into a wooded area to care for kitties. Ensure you have long pants, long sleeves, eye protection and closed toed shoes. Bug spray and a walking stick to move spider webs are also pro-tip’s.
Safety first! It’s always a very rewarding experience caring for kitties that need a home and a human to show them compassion, but there are always risks that can come along with caring for outdoor kitties. There is much more hope for kittens under 8 weeks of age to socialize, but not all adult cats can be domesticated. So please think twice before picking a friendly outdoor cat up or inviting them into your home!
If you cannot manage ongoing care, you can look into TNR. TNR is Trap, Neuter, Return. Alley Cat Allies explain, “In a Trap-Neuter-Return program, community cats are humanely trapped (with box traps), brought to a veterinarian to be spayed or neutered, vaccinated, ear-tipped (the universal sign that a community cat has been neutered and vaccinated), and then returned to their outdoor home. TNR improves the lives of cats, addresses community concerns, reduces complaints about cats, and stops the breeding cycle. TNR improves the co-existence between outdoor cats and humans in our shared environment”.
You can also look into starting a colony! It is a major commitment as the kitties will become very reliant on you, but there are so many resources online on how to run a successful cat colony. Get in touch with your local pet care organizations like the ASPCA or Humane Society to learn more and gain support from different programs.
Below are a few resources in the Charleston area that can help you find care and support for the feral cat community:
Sanctuaries & Refuges’:
Cats Only Vet:
*All pictures by Coastal Cat Care