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Is a Feral Cat Right for You?

Did you know…?

There are an estimated 65 million feral cats in the U.S. today, although some estimates are as high as 100 million.

A breeding pair of feral cats, which can have two or more litters per year, can exponentially produce 420,000 offspring over a seven-year period.

Useful Links

Feral Cat Coalition
Home At Last Feral Cat Rescue
Feral Friends
Alley Cat Rescue, the National Cat Protection Organization
Animalkind, Inc. Feral Cat Shelters

In many ways, Tiger Kitty (or TK as he's known for short) isn't your typical feral cat.  Unlike his still-wild counterparts who still roam around, homeless and often hungry, he now has a home. When his owners get home at night, he runs out to meet them and rubs against their ankles looking to be patted. At night, he sleeps curled up in an old arm chair on their porch or on top of a hay bale in the barn with the other farm cats for warmth and company.  In fact, the only thing that distinguishes him from his feline companions is the "brand" that identifies him as a feral cat:  the missing tip of his left ear, which was surgically removed by the veterinarian who neutered him as part of a low-cost feral cat spay-neuter program. (The ear tipping shows he is neutered.)

Adopting abandoned, abused or rescued animals is a noble cause and one to which animal lovers are quick to rally.  But there are caveats to adopting any animal with a troubled past, and prospective owners should never impulsively bring home such animals without considering all the consequences, not only for the animal, but for themselves, their families, and their other pets.  Only after careful consideration of what is entitled in the animal's care, feeding, housing and socialization should new owners take on such a pet.  The is very true of feral cats.

The first question many people must ask when considering a feral cat for adoption is whether it can be domesticated successfully.   The answer, often not too helpful, is that it depends.  A key factor is the age of the feral cat when it is captured.  In general, the younger the cat, the greater its chance of being successfully domesticated.  A feral kitten who is rescued at the age of six to eight weeks, vaccinated and neutered at an appropriate age has as much success as any kitten of becoming part of a family.  Feral cats who have been on their own in the wild for years, possibly having little or no contact with humans, make poor candidates for domestication.  Another factor is environment.  If you live in a small apartment in the city and want an indoor cat, a feral cat is probably not a good choice.  The cat would be miserable and it wouldn't be long before both you and your apartment were torn to shreds.  If you live on a farm, however, and are looking for a barn cat to control rodents, a feral cat is ideal, so long as it gets along with any cats who already live there.  Finally, there is an issue of gender.  Unneutered male cats tend to be more aggressive than females, but once neutered, either gender has a better chance of being tamed successfully.

If you decide that you can provide a good adoptive home for a feral cat, contact your local Feral Cat Coalition (http://www.feralcat.com) and ask for the names of rescuers.  Many shelters routinely euthanize all but the youngest feral cats brought in because of their limited adoptability, so they may not be a good source.  Check local newspaper classifieds and websites such as Craig's List (go to http://craigslist.org then click the link for your local city or area) for ads looking to place feral cats or kittens in adoptive homes.  After you find a suitable cat or kitten, the Feral Cat Coalition advises you to do three things:

  1. Before brining it home, have the cat examined by a vet, vaccinated, and treated for fleas (which can cause anemia in cats if left untreated) and other parasites.  Although the FCC does not routinely test or vaccinate for tested for FeLV/FIV/FIP because its focus is spaying/neutering, most veterinarians will advise you to have a cat you are adopting tested and vaccinated, especially if you have other cats at home.
  2. Be patient while socializing your feral cat.  The FCC offers an excellent guide to socializing kittens at http://www.feralcat.com/taming.html.
  3. Spay or neuter your pet!  Kittens can be neutered as young as eight weeks and the only way to prevent the feral cat problem from continuing is preventing further reproduction.
If you have the patience, love, and proper environment, your feral cat can turn from a wild thing into a real pussycat and you'll have a well behaved and happy pet.

 

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Testimonials

  •           8/29/2017

    I love Balboa Pet Hospital! Balboa Pet Hospital's staff is amazing! The staff is knowledgeable, caring and above all honest! I feel confident that my pets are getting the best possible care there. The staff has always taken time to answer all of my questions and if I think of something after my appointment, I can just email! I know I won’t have to wait too long for response.

    Unfortunately, this year I’ve had to make some really difficult decisions. The compassion the staff showed to both my pet and I made these unbearable times tolerable. I am indebted to both Dr. Del Rosso and (the wonderful) Dr. Ravn for their kindness, compassion and dedication.

    If you are new to the area or just looking for a new vet, please give Balboa pet Hospital a call!

  •           6/5/2017

    LOVE everything about this place!!! The people are all super nice & caring. I never feel like they’re trying to sell me stuff I don’t need. The vets (especially Dr. Alice Chan) are wonderful, I always fee; comfortable coming here whenever Walle has an issue. They even help me file the insurance claims after each visit! Would highly recommended any pet owners to see them for their fur-baby needs.

  •           6/5/2017

    My dog has been a regular patient since 7 years ago. Once in a while we visit other hospitals due to time conflicts. However, we always go back to Balboa Pet Hospital. My dog has bad allergy and the doctors and assistants always follow up with us after the treatments or visits, help us submit the insurance claims. It’s not a cheapest place to go but their patience and caring are irreplaceable.

  •           4/28/2017

    I’m glad to have found Balboa Pet Hospital near my home. It’s definitely a hidden gem! Dr. Chan saw my dog, Oreo, for her skin problem last week, and my three cats, Pepper, Tofu and Cola, today for annual check-up. She’s very patient (especially with Oreo who’s shy to strangers), knowledgeable and approachable. The front staffs are also very friendly and helpful. They are so prompt to reply my email (within a few hours when I checked back my mailbox). All my pets are about 1-year-old and I’ll definitely bring them here for their health issues/checkup in many years followed.

  •           5/4/2017

    Brought my dog here for a checkup and some minor concerns. Dr. Chan was very professional. She got my dog the treatment he needed and answered all my questions regarding my concerns. The rest of the staff were very friendly and gentle with my dog. You could tell that the staff are genuine animal lovers; definitely something you want when you entrust the health of your pet to someone.

  •           5 of 5

    Been bringing our animals to Balboa for over 25 years and will continue because they provide great advice and care. We love Dr. D and staff are really helpful and friendly. Now if I can find medical care for myself like my animals get at Balboa...

  •           5 of 5

    I have been a patron of Balboa Pet Hospital for almost 500 years now (wink). I love Everybody there and feel they are have always been a great resource and the BEST support system for everything pertaining to my pets.

  •          

    The staff is very kind and gentle, the doctors are very caring and patient when dealing with my scared cat Lulu. I appreciate the time they took to put her at ease and making this procedure as painless as possible for the both of us. Will definitely be spreading the word. Thank you Balboa Pet Hospital.
     

    Linda P.

    San Francisco, CA

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