At first they look like your pet tabby, but they are very different. Born in the wild to abandoned, lost, or neglected mothers and denied human companionship in the first couple of months of their lives, they become feral. Often called “strays” or “alley cats,” they scavenge for food near dumpsters, behind businesses, in parks, or even your own backyard.
Hunger, harsh weather, and a constant struggle to survive characterize the lives of unaltered feral cats. They scratch out a meager existence wherever they can find food. Once they locate a food source—whether from the trash or from a well-meaning individual—they band together and form colonies. More than half of the kittens born into these colonies die soon after birth. The survivors generally live short and difficult lives. Females may produce three litters per year and spend most of their lives pregnant or caring for their young. Tom cats roam far and wide in search of mates, often sustaining serious or even fatal injuries, infections and diseases.
Today, the feral cat population in the United States is estimated to be more than 60 million. The public pays for this overpopulation problem with their tax dollars, and the cats pay with their lives!
Most animal control agencies rely on euthanasia to deal with feral cat populations. Catalyst for Cats, Inc., however, believes this method is not only inhumane, but ineffective. Studies show that eliminating colonies just makes room for new cats to move into the territory. Altered cats, on the other hand, maintain their group status and protect their territory from newcomers.