Is a Feral Cat Right for You?

image of a cat.

In many ways, Tiger Kitty (or TK as he's known for short) isn't your typical feral cat. Unlike his still-wild counterparts who still roam around, homeless and often hungry, he now has a home. When his owners get home at night, he runs out to meet them and rubs against their ankles looking to be patted. At night, he sleeps curled up in an old arm chair on their porch or on top of a hay bale in the barn with the other farm cats for warmth and company. In fact, the only thing that distinguishes him from his feline companions is the "brand" that identifies him as a feral cat: the missing tip of his left ear, which was surgically removed by the veterinarian who neutered him as part of a low-cost feral cat spay-neuter program. (The ear tipping shows he is neutered.)

Adopting abandoned, abused or rescued animals is a noble cause and one to which animal lovers are quick to rally. But there are caveats to adopting any animal with a troubled past, and prospective owners should never impulsively bring home such animals without considering all the consequences, not only for the animal, but for themselves, their families, and their other pets. Only after careful consideration of what is entitled in the animal's care, feeding, housing and socialization should new owners take on such a pet. The is very true of feral cats.

The first question many people must ask when considering a feral cat for adoption is whether it can be domesticated successfully. The answer, often not too helpful, is that it depends. A key factor is the age of the feral cat when it is captured. In general, the younger the cat, the greater its chance of being successfully domesticated. A feral kitten who is rescued at the age of six to eight weeks, vaccinated and neutered at an appropriate age has as much success as any kitten of becoming part of a family. Feral cats who have been on their own in the wild for years, possibly having little or no contact with humans, make poor candidates for domestication. Another factor is environment. If you live in a small apartment in the city and want an indoor cat, a feral cat is probably not a good choice. The cat would be miserable and it wouldn't be long before both you and your apartment were torn to shreds. If you live on a farm, however, and are looking for a barn cat to control rodents, a feral cat is ideal, so long as it gets along with any cats who already live there. Finally, there is an issue of gender. Unneutered male cats tend to be more aggressive than females, but once neutered, either gender has a better chance of being tamed successfully.

If you decide that you can provide a good adoptive home for a feral cat, contact your local Feral Cat Coalition (http://www.feralcat.com) and ask for the names of rescuers. Many shelters routinely euthanize all but the youngest feral cats brought in because of their limited adoptability, so they may not be a good source. Check local newspaper classifieds and websites such as Craig's List (go to http://craigslist.org then click the link for your local city or area) for ads looking to place feral cats or kittens in adoptive homes. After you find a suitable cat or kitten, the Feral Cat Coalition advises you to do three things:

  1. Before brining it home, have the cat examined by a vet, vaccinated, and treated for fleas (which can cause anemia in cats if left untreated) and other parasites. Although the FCC does not routinely test or vaccinate for tested for FeLV/FIV/FIP because its focus is spaying/neutering, most veterinarians will advise you to have a cat you are adopting tested and vaccinated, especially if you have other cats at home.
  2. Be patient while socializing your feral cat. The FCC offers an excellent guide to socializing kittens at http://www.feralcat.com/taming.html.
  3. Spay or neuter your pet! Kittens can be neutered as young as eight weeks and the only way to prevent the feral cat problem from continuing is preventing further reproduction.

If you have the patience, love, and proper environment, your feral cat can turn from a wild thing into a real pussycat and you'll have a well behaved and happy pet.

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Our Regular Schedule

Monday:

7:30 am-5:30 pm

Tuesday:

7:30 am-8:00 pm

Wednesday:

7:30 am-5:30 pm

Thursday:

7:30 am-5:30 pm

Friday:

7:30 am-5:30 pm

Saturday:

Open 1st & 3rd Saturdays of each month. Closed 2nd & 4th Saturdays of each month.

8:00 am-2:00 pm

Sunday:

Closed

Testimonials

Read What Our Clients Say

  • "We have a new 8 week Boston Terrier that we took to Springfield Vet yesterday for the first time. Absolutely pleased with the service, attitudes and genuine care shown to our little boy. The whole team was so professional, but took time to talk to you and explain everything. Dr Cynthia Wiseman is so wonderful, she sat in the floor did Logan's exam and played with him. What bedside manners. I will continue to use them, I highly recommend them to anyone looking for a caring and professional vet."
    Roi W.
  • "We absolutely love this vet clinic and the staff! The facilities are modern and always clean. Everyone is always so friendly and genuinely care for you and your animal- they make you feel as if you are apart of their family.

    Our boy, Samson, is a Rottie (and quite the problem child). We are usually in the clinic almost every other month for something and they are always so helpful and show great care and love for our pup! We are very picky/protective puppy parents, so we were very grateful to have found both Dr. Cynthia and Dr. Heath shortly after getting Samson.

    We have definitely found our "home" in the vet world, and would highly recommend to anyone who is currently looking!"
    Machaelie H.
  • "I have taken my dog here since he was a puppy. The staff are so friendly and caring, a very clean place and they always get us in quickly. When we come in no one passes us without greeting my dog and I and they're never in a rush to get us out of there."
    ShealynR.
  • "We decided to start taking our new kitty here this past fall and we love it! He was not on his best behavior (to say the least) for his first appointment, and the staff was so patient and was still able to safely run his bloodwork and give him his vaccinations. Every service has been reasonably priced, and they did everything they possibly could to make sure that our little guy was off to a healthy start after we adopted him. What I love is that they really seem to focus on the small details, too, like trimming our cat's nails after remembering that I had expressed interest in doing so at a previous appointment, or supplementing his flea treatment with something to safely speed up the process. We will definitely keep coming here as long as we live in Springfield!"
    Megan J.
  • "I have been taking my dog to SVC since 2012 and when I adopted my cat in 2015. I have never had a bad experience. We have seen Drs. Heath & Cynthia Wiseman and I love them both. Always professional, always take their time when looking my pets over, asking questions, and answering mine."
    Katherine P.
  • "We’ve been taking our Moose there for a few years now. After swallowing a toy when he was a puppy, getting fixed, having surgery on his eyelids a couple times, and most recently having a breed specific illness; I can I say I would recommend everyone to go here. They’ve taken the best care of our boy time and time again and went above and beyond."
    Ashley J.
  • "We’ve been taking our Moose there for a few years now. After swallowing a toy when he was a puppy, getting fixed, having surgery on his eyelids a couple times, and most recently having a breed specific illness; I can I say I would recommend everyone to go here. They’ve taken the best care of our boy time and time again and went above and beyond."
    Ashley J.
  • "Pleasant staff.,very informative. Great environment for your pets, including own room for cats to play so as they aren't stressed out."
    Cheryl K.
  • "Dr. Cynthia Wiseman has helped my little Shiba dog with chronic hip problems tremendously with consistent acupuncture therapy! So thankful for this practice and the high quality of care they offer my pets!"
    Lacey M.