How to Help Feral Cats

Feral cats are unowned and generally not socialized to people, so they usually cannot be adopted. That doesn’t mean that they are beyond our help and don’t deserve humane treatment. This is work that you have to basically volunteer yourself for, but, if you feel like doing a little something that is an act of kindness that gives back to the community, this is certainly one way to do it.

Providing these cats with some food, water, and easy-to-make shelters, will certainly improve their lives, but the best way to help feral cats is through a process known as Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR). TNR ensures no new kittens are born, stabilizes cat populations, and improves cats’ lives.

What Is Trap-Neuter-Return?

Trap-Neuter-Return is the only humane and effective way to approach feral cat populations. Here are the basic steps to this lifesaving process:

  1. Trap: Humanely trap the cat or multiple cats, if there is a colony. A colony is a group of cats living outdoors together.
  2. Neuter (or spay): Take the cats in their traps to a veterinarian or clinic to be neutered, vaccinated, and eartipped (the universal symbol of a neutered and vaccinated cat).
  3. Return: After the cats recover, return them to their outdoor home where they were trapped.

Plan ahead for trapping a cat. Only use a humane box trap to catch a feral cat. You can usually ask to borrow one from other cat rescuers in Facebook groups.

Never attempt to pick up or handle a feral cat—even a kitten. You risk injury to yourself and the cat. Feral cats are generally wary of people.

Establish a Feeding Schedule. This gets the cats used to coming out and eating while you are there (and help with your assessment process), establish a set time and place to feed the cats every day. Eventually, place a tiny bit of food just inside the entrance of the trap to encourage the cat to walk in.

Once cat is trapped, cover with a heavy blanket to transport. Safely transport the cats to the veterinarian’s office, clinic, or a holding area you have already prepared.

Make an appointment to have the cat spayed/neutered at a low cost clinic like People for Animals. This will cost around $50.

Let the cat recover overnight in their trap.

Return the cat to the same location where you trapped them. If you like, you can resume the cats’ regular feeding schedule.

For much more detailed info on how to TNR, read here.

Branch Locations
Main Library 449 Halsey Road
Parsippany, NJ 07054
(973) 887-5150
Lake Hiawatha 68 Nokomis Avenue
Lake Hiawatha, NJ 07034
(973) 335-0952
Mount Tabor 31 Trinity Park
Mount Tabor, NJ 07878
(973) 627-9508
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