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October 16: National Feral Cat Day

A great way to help the cats in your community is to get involved with Trap Neuter/Spay Return (TNR) and Return to Field (RTF) programs. If you live in Los Angeles or Orange County areas, OC Community Cats or Del Gato Rescue are both 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations in need of volunteers to help with TNR, transportation, community cat feeding, foster care, and other various volunteer roles. OCSP is a foster-based organization, and we do not have the resources for TNR.

While “feral” specifically means unsocialized and potentially aggressive, feral cats are very misunderstood. These cats have lived outside their entire lives and have not been socialized around humans. Cats hiss because they are scared. They do this as a warning to potential predators to make themselves appear dangerous. While you certainly should not try to handle a feral cat, this doesn’t make them mean. Because they are unsocialized, they are fearful of humans. Cats also fluff their tails to make their bodies appear bigger.

We should also recognize homeless cats on this day. Perhaps you’re familiar with terms like “street cats,” “neighborhood cats,” or “community cats.” Stray cats are often lumped in with feral cats, but these cats were most likely someone’s pet who was dumped or left behind when moving. Ensuring these cats are sterilized is the best way to end the cycle. That’s why TNR and RTF programs are vital. Unfortunately for Orange County residents, the city-run shelter, OC Animal Care, no longer participates in a TNR program and no longer accepts healthy stray cats. This means cat rescues are shouldering the burden. If you can get involved in TNR, you will make a huge difference in your community.

Another problem cat rescues encounter is when people dump domesticated cats (and their new kittens!) at cat colony sites. Cats raised in a home do not thrive on the street. And there isn’t a guarantee that the cats in the colony will accept these newcomers. Then there is the lack of socialization. The window for socialization is small; the longer a cat goes without positive human encounters, the harder it is to socialize them. This means adoption will not be in reach and rescues must resort to TNR. The goal is to get these cats spayed or neutered to prevent kittens being born on the street and continuing the cycle of homeless cats.

Spay/neuter your pets and keep them indoors. If you adopt your cat through a reputable rescue, your cat will be fixed before going home with you. Beware of groups labeling themselves as rescues who are willing to adopt out a cat or dog that hasn’t been fixed. That is against California law. When in doubt, any non-profit 501(c)(3) organization will have an EIN you can check.

If you accept a cat from a friend, neighbor or if you take in a friendly stray, please ensure the cat is fixed. If the current owner is unsure, a vet can easily tell you. After the procedure, the cats are given a small tattoo indicating they have been fixed. If the accept a kitten from a friend or neighbor, you need to wait until the cat is at least two months and weighs at least two pounds.

Resourses for Orange County and LA County.

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