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A Dog’s Eye View: Who Let the Cat Out?

A Dog's Eye View: Who Let the Cat Out?

Decided it was time to get into something different today. It’s the Great Debate on whether to let your housecat outside. Many cat owners swear by it. It’s a way to keep those hunting insticts sharp. Many cats are very proud of their accomplishments as hunters, and will gladly bring home the results of their labors to show you. Most cats love the great outdoors, and most of those cats usually come home when they’re hungry, tired or good and ready to do so.

But what happens when your cat does not come home? Whose cat was that on the side of the road? Was he hunted himself? Ever wonder how many of those pets featured in “missing” posters actually get found? Not many in my neighborhood. What happens if your cat mixes it up with a feral cat? What do you do if you repeatedly find a cat near your home? And my favorite, what do I do with all these kittens?

According to Cat Fancy Magazine, to determine whether outdoor cats are stray or feral, establish a daily feeding routine — same place, same time — for at least two weeks. Watch the cats’ behavior.

Feral cats are not socialized and avoid human contact. Feral cats will run away if you approach or make eye contact with them. Even as you feed them, they may continue to avoid you. Feral cats live in colonies near sources of food and shelter. They develop strong bonds with other cats in the colony and are happiest living in their established outdoor home. Stray cats, on the other hand, have lived with humans. A stray will let you get close and may even allow petting. Strays are usually vocal. They’re more curious than cautious. Stray cats often do not look as clean and healthy as feral cats because they are not accustomed to fending for themselves.

I do not advocate feeding cats outside. It attracts too many other things that want to eat the food, or my chickens. Let the feral cats run away-they have a generally bad attitude, and lord knows what parasites or diseases. There are groups that will trap, neuter and release them, but I’m not sure how effectively it controls feral populations. Judging by the many numerous rabbits in my yard, there are no feral colonies near me.  The cats I see I usually do not recognize, as I don’t see them more than once.

I know there are several cat rescue groups in our community, but I have no idea how many kittens they take in, or what trends they see.  I’m open to any advice or information they’d like give. Do barn cats really have it that easy? I’ll be back with some more statistics…

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