Feral cats are a common concern in many communities, including Hilliard.
It’s usually not difficult to tell the difference between a feral cat and a domesticated one. Genetically, they are the same animal as house cats. Most feral cats have always lived outside as wild animals, though some have become feral after being abandoned as pets by humans.
They don’t have collars, often have an unkempt appearance, and often – but not always – avoid people.
Feeding and care
Feeding stray cats makes some people feel like they are doing a good deed, but it should be done responsibly.
- Choose one place to feed and keep it clean. Create a “feeding station” for all food dishes.
- Remove any uneaten food within 30 minutes. Leaving food overnight can attract insects and other wildlife. Keep food stations clean.
- Provide fresh water, especially in the summer. In the winter, wider and deeper bowls will not freeze as quickly.
Common Sense/Good Neighbor Steps
Feeding stray cats can create its own problems for you and your neighbors. Please keep the following in mind:
- Consider Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) for all cats in the colony to reduce feral populations (and keep existing cats healthier.) Be sure to discuss TNR plans with neighbors to avoid confusion and concern.
- Keep everything clean to reduce unpleasant smells and avoid attracting insects and other animals.
- Create litter areas, such as a sandbox, in a quiet, sheltered place and clean it regularly. This will help keep cats from relieving themselves in neighborhood gardens and properties.
- Use humane deterrents (www.alleycat.org/Deterrents) to keep cats away from areas they aren’t wanted. Offer to apply such deterrents for your neighbors.
Columbus Humane is partnered with local cat rescues and colony caregivers that are dedicated to managing healthy cat colonies throughout Central Ohio. The agency’s Community Cat Initiative is designed to help reduce the number of free-roaming stray/feral cats in Central Ohio.
The Trap-Neuter-Return program works to spay/neuter, vaccinate, and ear tip healthy outdoor cats. (Ear tipping is a universal sign that a cat has been spayed/neutered.)
Caregivers trap* cats the night before their scheduled appointment and bring them to Columbus Humane (3015 Scioto Darby Executive Court, Hilliard) for spay/neuter the next morning. Caregivers pick up the cats later in the evening to hold overnight in a safe, enclosed space and then re-release the felines where they were originally trapped.
Columbus Humane provides this program free of charge. For more information or to make an appointment, call (614) 777-7387 ext. 208.
Never trap a cat unless there is a plan in place and you are following safe trapping guidelines.
(* Humane trap rentals are available for two-week periods through Columbus Humane’s Animal Support Center with a $50 deposit. Some hardware stores also rent humane traps.)