What are Feral Cats?
It's easy to confuse a feral cat with a stray cat (Hint: feral cats are the offspring of lost or abandoned pet cats or other feral cats who are not fixed). They don't easily adapt, or may never adapt, to living as pets in close contact with people, but they still need our help.
There's a growing need for community-wide Trap-Neuter-Return programs, which help improve the health and quality of life for feral cats and prevent more from being born into this dangerous and difficult existence.*
TNR is a humane and non-lethal approach to feral cat population control. It is a comprehensive management plan where healthy feral (free-roaming) cats are sterilized and vaccinated, then returned to their habitat and provided with long-term care.
Feral Cat TNR Clinics in New Mexico:
(click on a clinic to visit their website)
Animal Humane | New Mexico: 505-255-5523
Street Cat Companions: 505-881-7297
Espanola Valley Humane Society: 505-753-8662
Sierra County Humane Society: 575-894-2778
Animal Protective Association of Socorro: 575-835-0259 or 575-838-3940
Common Questions & Concerns
(click to view answers)
Where do feral cats come from?
Feral cats are the result of people abandoning their unsterilized pet cats. These cats then breed, producing kittens that recieve very little human contact.
Can feral cats live without human help?
Although feral cats act in many ways similar to wildlife, they are the descendants of domestic cats. Some may seek out a meager existence without human assistance, but without man’s help, they do not thrive. In order for feral cats to thrive, they need cat food, fresh water, and shelter from the elements.
Does New Mexico have a feral cat problem?
Over 20,000 cats and kittens are killed in New Mexico shelters every year. Many surplus cats come from the offspring of feral cats and many end up being euthanized in shelters. Cat euthanasias greatly outnumber dog euthanasias in New Mexico.
What is being done to combat New Mexico's feral cat problem?
Historically, people have either ignored the problem or have trapped the cats and taken them to be euthanized. However, these methods have been shown to be ineffective and oftentimes very costly. It’s just in the last ten years or so that Trap, Neuter, Return (TNR) has become an alternative method of dealing with feral cats in the United States. Now, thanks to Animal Humane | New Mexico and Street Cat Companions, TNR is easily accessible to New Mexicans— and inexpensive!
How do I take advantage of the program?
There are several Trap/Neuter/Return (TNR) programs throughout the state. They are listed on this page under clinics. The programs range in cost from $0-$40.00. In order to qualify for the discounted surgery, the cat must be truly feral or ”un-owned, free roaming”. The feral cat must be brought to a participating veterinarian in a humane trap. And a small tip of the cat’s ear will be removed while under anesthesia.
Where do I get a Humane Trap for Ferals?
There are two programs at Animal Humane | New Mexico that loan True-Catch gravity-driven traps as opposed to the spring-loaded variety. To obtain traps, call New Mexico Animal Friends at 505-881-7297 or Animal Humane at 255-5523 ext. 105.
I'm so nervous about trapping the cats...does it stress them out?
There is a certain amount of stress involved in trapping the cats. This can include stress on the cat, and in many cases, the caregiver! However, altering the cat will greatly increase its chances for a happier, healthier life! A just trapped cat will often panic a bit and may thrash around in the trap. The best way to minimize stress on the cat is to cover the trap with a sheet or large towel. When the trap is set to catch a cat, cover at least half of the trap but leave the area near the front door uncovered. When the cat is trapped, quietly and quickly cover the entire trap-this will immediately calm the cat. Take the cat to a quiet, temperate indoor location until you can get it to a vet. Click here
to read Humane Trapping Protocols.
I'm worried the cats will no longer trust me if I trap them. Is this true?
NO, many cats will remain hidden for a few days after trapping but in the experience of expert caregivers, the cats often become more familiar with their caregiver after they have been altered. Some TNR experts believe this is because, after altering, the cats tend to hang around their food source more and will actually get to know their caregiver a little better.
What is ear-tipping?
When a feral cat is spayed/neutered, their ear is snipped slightly. Ear-tipping is very important as a way to quickly identify an altered feral cat. Tipped ears have saved many cats from undergoing an unnecessary second spay/neuter surgery! Ear-tipping does not appear to cause the cat pain because cats are under anesthesia when the tip of the ear is removed.
My neighbors complain about the feral cats I feed. What should I do?
Most importantly, stay calm. If a disgruntled neighbor reports to the local animal control that the feral cats you feed are causing a nuisance, many animal control jurisdictions have it written in their animal control ordinances that they must respond to such a complaint. So, for the well being of the cats, it is critical that you try to work on solving the complainant’s issues without hostility. Simply spaying and neutering the animals can remedy many nuisance issues: no more late night howling, smelly urine, or kittens everywhere. Other issues related to feral cats include: cats eliminating on neighbors property, food left out is attracting wildlife, and cats climbing on cars.
I need to relocate some feral cats. How should I do it?
Relocation should be viewed as a last resort in dealing with feral cats unless you have a suitable relocation site and the time to properly handle a relocation effort. Many times, people can actually resolve the issues around the cats without having to relocate them. Really examine the reason for considering relocation and see if there may be alternative solutions. For example, it might be a lot easier to put up cat fencing or build a cat enclosure to ensure the cats cannot roam the neighborhood. If you must relocate cats, finding a suitable site can be a great challenge but not an impossible one! Many people assume ferals need to be relocated “on a farm”, but for small colonies, someone’s back yard can easily be a safe haven for a few feral cats.