Dear Catsters, Good Morning. Last night saw a Feral cat limping by my Apartment building.

Roopa RajaramadossRoopa Rajaramadoss manchesterMember Posts: 205
I noticed a orange tabby cat (limping on its right rear foot). But it seemed like an old injury. I tried approaching the cat and it ran away. I am sure now that its a Feral cat. I asked my shelter folks but they said they dont have enough space at this time. I feel really bad for this cat. Can I just provide food for this cat on a daily basis atleast for the winter? By giving food am I assuming ownership of the cat? Later if I move out of this apartment( as its rental) will the cat be able to survive on its own? I dont want him(i think!) to depend on me and then lose his hunting skills and later on when I leave he will be rendered helpless. Please advise. I have two cats already and I live in a very small apartment. I did contact the shelter and they are not very keen on capturing a Feral cat. the only other thing I can do is spend some money for his food but wanted to ensure am not creating a future problem. So please provide your valuble suggestions. Thank you.

Best Answers

  • Joy WaltersJoy Walters Member Posts: 9,276
    Accepted Answer
    Wow. This is a tricky situation, and I understand your heartache and desire to help this poor cat. By feeding the cat, you are making him dependent upon you. While in the short term, you'll be feeding him (and possibly other stray cats that will be drawn to the food), when you do move, you will be cutting off the food source to which he'll have become accustomed. He won't lose his hunting skills, but he will become dependent upon you. If your police department has an animal control officer, they may be able to trap the cat, but you and I both know what it's fate will be. In a way, this may be kinder than leaving an injured cat to suffer through the winter on the streets. My welfare group always said "You feed, you breed", and you COULD be creating a future problem, especially if you do move out. Unfortunately, this is how feral cat colonies get their start. IMO, unless you are willing to TNR the cat and vet it for it's injuries, it may be better off being left alone. I'm so sorry!
  • Jeanna SmithJeanna Smith Member Posts: 1
    Accepted Answer
    I have totally been in your situation, being the person that I am, loving cats, I gave in to a Feral Cat, they do become dependent on you to feed them. The one cat led to many more for me. But the ones that I do have outside still will bring home birds, etc. for food. I doubt if he or she stays outside that he will actually lose his hunting instincts. But. that is my opinion based on the cats I have helped. Being that you rent makes the decision even tougher. Is there someone that has a farm that you could possibly trap the cat and take it to the farm? But to answer your question, yes you would probably create a future problem.
  • Karen HazelriggKaren Hazelrigg Member Posts: 3,904
    Accepted Answer
    Is the cat truly feral of simply homeless? It might make a huge difference for it's future. We have a vacation home in a rural area where feral cats used to be a big problem. Prior to my moving here, I had a home on the Jersey Shore where people frequently took a summer rental and moved out in the fall, leaving their cats behind. In NJ, we tried to find homes for these cats. They weren't feral and it was difficult and not always successful. Here, there is a community effort to maintain a feral cat community. The feral cats provide a much needed service with regard to mice, rats, etc. The cats are trapped, taken to the vet, spayed and, if possible, found homes. If not possible, they are returned to the community where they are fed but no longer breed. Not ideal, but not a death sentence. It isn't a home for life, but it is a life. I understand not all communities can launch a program like this. If yours can't, then your options are limited. Good luck on your decision
  • Nancy ArnottNancy Arnott Member Posts: 15
    Accepted Answer
    I would recommend you seek the advice and help of a feral-cat rescue group in your area. Alley Cat Allies can link you up with someone in their Feral Friends Network if you e-mail them with an inquiry: I hope this helps. Good luck, and bless you for caring for a feral!
  • suzanne mollersuzanne moller los angelesMember Posts: 1
    Accepted Answer
    One thing you can do is take him with you when you move. (If you move) I have done this with my ferals on several occasions!! If he goes to the shelter won't they euthanize him? They do here. It also sounds like he could use some much needed medical attention. He probably has worms, parasites etc... and could use a little "fluff and buff" so to speak. If you cannot take him with you, try contacting a local feral group and ask for their help. They may have "feeders" in your area. Also, he probably needs to be neutered. It is a responsibility yes, but if you don't do it, who will?? Take care Catmandoo Rescue
  • Jamaka PetzakJamaka Petzak los angeles/glendale/cathouseMember Posts: 59
    Accepted Answer is Alley Cat Allies' website URL. ACA is the nation's free-roaming feline information/help database. Engrave it on your p.c. and in your memory! "Shelters" almost always kill feral cats on intake. NEVER surrender a feral cat to Animal Control or "shelters". ACA has answers you need and you may be directed to people in your locale who know how to do TNR (trap-neuter-return, the preferred method of feral/free-roaming cat handling), or you may be given directives on how to do this yourself, so you can get this cat fixed and baseline innoculations. Cats, as they are domesticated, cannot survive well without human assistance. TNR is the answer. Please contact ACA. Thank you for caring about this cat!!!
  • PURRfect PartnersPURRfect Partners TorranceMember Posts: 1
    Accepted Answer
    You should have the cat checked, first to see if its fixed, if it isn't then get it done, and get an overall health check. Contact a local rescue group and see if they will help you. I volunteer with a cat rescue group and we provide traps, schedule appt's for spay and neuter & Vet checks. I would also recommend getting a FeLV/FIV combo test done on the cat. If the cat is leukemia + you wouldn't want to put him back on the street. FIV is not as contagious, but if the cat is aggressive, he should be put on the street either. When he's in a trap you should be able to access to whether he is indeed feral or just scared. Feral cats won't show any interest in people, usually will hiss and flatten his ears, some even spit. Not to be confused with just cowering in the corner. Have someone from the rescue group take a look at him. Most will be able to tell a friendly from a feral. My opinion is spay, feed, then figure everything else out. Out of room e-mail Jo at [email protected]
  • Linda SuttonLinda Sutton rural MissouriMember Posts: 11
    Accepted Answer
    I'm sure glad that my mean owners didn't drop me off at some of these people's places. Hi! I'm the X-Yard Cat. Me and my brother got abandoned out in the country at a wanna-be farm. It took me over six months to charm my way into the house but meanwhile the lady fed me, albeit cheapo Walmart Special Kitty food. When the snow started falling she even put up a heat lamp on her porch and I slept in a bucket under the light. Half of my human's cats are x-ferals. Even my uncle had a feral cat when he lived in hawaii. About a month before he moved, he put up an add on his apartments bulletin board and found another cat lover who took over the job of feeding his feral friend.
  • nati bastidasnati bastidas CaliMember Posts: 470
    Accepted Answer
    I have been in this situation many times and what I ve learned is that if you feed them , they wont lose their hunting skills , so long as you dont provide all their daily food. What I do is give them like 1/3 or 2/3 of what I estimate they eat daily in dry food in small amounts and let them catch the rest. Of course , if the injury is serious , then you might have to provide all the food. Sometimes, they might even get used to you , if it is only a stray. It happenedo me and now the cats I feed are as loving as any indoor cat,even though it took a year you might be able to take him to a vet and get him neutered and treat the injury , then release him. Usually you wont find homes for them because they'llbe skittish the rest of their lives. If not , keep and eye out for him. Chances are , if the injury is old , he is getting along just fine , and if he doesnt look skinny or malnourushed , he doesnt need anything. And in the harshest days of winter you could leave out some food , too.
  • Marlene BurryMarlene Burry InnisfilMember Posts: 4
    Accepted Answer
    I fed a gang of stray (I don't like the word feral) cats for 3 years. Every night I took them meals on wheels. I had about 15 living behind an old hotel. They will not lose their hunting skills if you move as the owner of one of the building made me stop feeding them after 3 years (the building got a different managere) Those cats knew the sound of my car and were waiting for me at the end of the driveway. After awhile I could touch some of them. Alot of these cats at one time have belonged to someone. But no one will help you. If you want to have the injury looked at you will have to trap him ( a cage with some food in it) and take him to the vet yourself and pay. My daughter-in-law traps cats all the time and gets them spayed. They are so hungry they are easy to catch as they are hungry. Good luck. Feed him, it wil lmake you feel good. Tia was one of my stray cats.
  • Dona FisherDona Fisher roeland park/mission/kansas ciMember Posts: 1
    Accepted Answer
    I have taken in several ferrel cats and still have one. I've seen him through many injuries, beat up face, poked out eye, and most recently broken back leg. His face and eye problems I put him on people antiobiotics which I mixed in his food and it took a while, but he mended as best as he could being ferrel. The broken leg within 3 days, he had eaten off the dead lower half of the leg and now has 1/2 back leg and hops on 3 instead of 4 legs. Animal control tried to trap him for me and couldn't on several occasions, and refuses to try again. He's been at my door every a.m. , afternoon, and p.m. for his food for 6 years now. Still can't touch him but he lets me know when he's here for food by starring in the door or crying under the window. Good luck. Maybe a vet will give you some antibiotic to mix in his food.
  • Avia RauscherAvia Rauscher New YorkMember Posts: 802
    Accepted Answer
    Unfortunately, I agree with Izzie. It is heartbreaking to see an injured kitty and not do anything about it. But unless you have the time/money/inclination to trap, test, vaccinate, & neuter the cat, he is better off left alone. You could try going to It is the website for an organization dedicated to helping ferals and the people who take care of them. They may be able to provide help for you.
  • Aggie Poupon Harry WintonAggie Poupon Harry Winton Cincinnati, OHMember Posts: 3
    Accepted Answer
    At the very least, get him/her fixed and soon. It is amazing how fast feral cats breed. We had the beginnings of a really BIG feral problem in my neighborhood due partly to a kind-hearted neighbor feeding stray cats. In two weeks, we trapped 24 cats/kittens, all of whom have been fixed. The adults were released, and the kittens are being socialized for adoption. Until I got involved in TNR, I did not know that there were low-cost spay/neuter clinics ($35 here). Go on the internet and search TNR in your area. Call and leave a messages. If you are willing to pay for neutering, and I can't see why you wouldn't if you are willing to spend money on food, you are more likely to get help trapping this stray. If all you want to do is feed this stray, my advice is to leave it alone. You will only be creating a bigger problem. BTW, my Poupon was a stray kitten I found several winters ago, now neutered and comfortably ensconced inside.
  • Sandy PattonSandy Patton Member Posts: 1
    Accepted Answer
    Hey there friend, Being a rescue of feral cats myself I have found they do not lose their ability to hunt and fend for themselves. If you cannot find a group that do not put down feral animals I would suggest to feed him and let him know you care. Even though feeding may draw more kitties, it is the humane thing to do. Most feral kitties grow to be very street smart through trail and error. They are much more smart than many people think. If you choose to have him come and winter comes too, just put some kind of box or crate that would be a shelter from the elements for him to use. Just remember you have a big heart ready to give.
  • Deborah CassidyDeborah Cassidy Member Posts: 1
    Accepted Answer
    Of course you can feed this poor guy! But you should also trap him and have him checked out and fixed and vaccinated through a vet or a spay/neuter or TNR (trap/neuter/return) group. As others have suggested, you can contact Alley Cat Allies for leads to low-cost programs in your area. You might be able to borrow a trap, get this guy checked out and fixed for $0-$35. It could be your cat has an old injury (a "frozen" leg) and usually animals manage just fine getting around on something like that. The other part of managing ferals is providing shelter for them in the cold. You can rig something easy for almost no money. Again, check out Alley Cat Allies for plans for various shelters ranging from a double storage bin with straw to a little wooden house with shingles! Also check out other TNR websites like Spay and Stay in Illinois and Indy Ferals in Indiana. If you move you could see if someone in the neighborhood could take over, or you could just take him in now or with you later!
  • Lani SwetleshnoffLani Swetleshnoff Member Posts: 1
    Accepted Answer
    hi there, my friend works with people for animals. She provides shelter for many kittens and cats in her own house. I can give you her email address if you are interested. Let me know at [email protected]
  • Wendy LyeWendy Lye HavelockMember Posts: 1
    Accepted Answer
    Unfortnately Cherry that is the norm when it comes to shelters....they never have any room when you try to do the right thing and report a cat that is homeless. It comes down to you found it now it's your problem so it seems. So if you decide to feed it, it will become dependant on you and if you eventually move then it will become someone elses problem. Sadly it's an unfortunate state of affairs, I know because I've been in the same boat, took pitty on a homeless cat and now I have a bevy of cats that I have to look after because I haven't the heart to just turn my back on them.
  • Laura GrahamLaura Graham FlowoodMember Posts: 6
    Accepted Answer
    Please do not bring this cat to a shelter. Feral cats are not adoptable, so sending this cat to a shelter would most likely be a death sentence. The best scenario would be to humanely trap this kitty using a smelly treat such as tuna fish in oil or sardines in oil to entice him into the trap. Once trapped, transport him to the vet for a check-up, neuter surgery, and rabies shot. Discuss with your vet your plans and they may be willing to work with you financially for his care. Allow him to recover for a minimum of 24 hours before releasing him. Continue to feed him, but don't expect for him to become friends with you. Your feeding him will not cause him to lose his hunting skills. This method of feral cat population management is called TNR and you can get more information from Alley Cat Allies: I hope this has been helpful. Good luck!
  • Accepted Answer
    You have gotten lots of good answers! Now, if I may add one more. Alley Cat Allies is the best resource on the web. I, too, am a caretaker to a feral cat colony. Look on ACA's website for the nearest feral cat organization, and they will also have information for you. They will have information on others who can help you take care of the cat, and who can feed it if you go on vacation and/or move. He won't lose his hunting skills, and the food you feed will be supplemental to what he kills on his own. Shelter can be provided by a covered wooden box with a towel or blanket in it, a rubbermaid with a hole cut in the side and a blanket, or something similar. Doesn't have to be an elaborate shelter. There are also kitty heating pads called "SnuggleSafe" that you can put in. I have more information about feral cats and the benefits of taking care of them at
  • Patricia SmythPatricia Smyth Member Posts: 1
    Accepted Answer
    Hi Cherry. My current 3 babies were feral born. Though I've had all of them since kittenhood, they have not lost their instinct to hunt. The one in particular still likes his "raw food" diet. So don't worry about him becoming dependant upon you if you feed him. A good, nutritious food will help him get over any infection that he might have. If you put out clean water for him, add some homeopathic medicine which will also help. This may give you the chance to befriend him enough to catch him & take him to a vet or shelter that specialises in feral cats. Otherwise, as many others suggest, contact an organisation that deals with ferals. Good Luck & thanks for caring.
  • Tammy MizerskiTammy Mizerski Member Posts: 1
    Accepted Answer
    I live in an area where people seem to abandon or "dump" cats several times a year. Fortunetly one cat in particular was taken in by my mom and he's doing great. And another plus is a vet in the area that did the neutering and shots for $25. If only more could do it for that price, more people would be able to help the cat overpopulation.
  • Shirley BrownShirley Brown Member Posts: 1
    Accepted Answer
    My vet has a live trap that can be borrowed for feral cats that need to be checked out and nutured. Check with some of your local vets. Mine is also the wild animal care provider. They are the greatest in caring.
  • Faith PenewellFaith Penewell TylerMember Posts: 1
    Accepted Answer
    My family has always been a bunch of softies when it comes to helping a hungry kitty who shows up at our house. We always thought we were helping by providing food, and we still do, but we learned that it's important to not leave a food dish out for all neighborhood cats to share. One homeless cat we were feeding and caring recently died from the feline leukemia virus, and the vet informed us that she could possibly have transmitted it to other cats in the neighborhood by sharing a food bowl. Now, we just put a little bit of food in a coffee filter when we see a cat nearby and throw it away when they leave. I don't believe that an outdoor cat will lose its ability to hunt or forage for its own food at any time. That's a basic instinct for cats.
  • Kathy BakerKathy Baker Clarkston,Member Posts: 4
    Accepted Answer
    Cherry: I have 30+ years at trapping and handling ferals, and yet I have 7 in my house right now that I am protecting from a wind storm. First contact your local shelter or feral rescue group to see if they have a "tender trap" cage for you to borrow. Trap the cat and watch him for a couple of days, if you have a dog crate or large cat carrier put him in that, you will be surprised at how fast they calm down when they feel secure. If (it) he calms down enough you might be able to see what the problem is. Most important call around and see if you can get a coupon or some assistance to have it fixed. This is important so it won't be out making other baby ferals. I admire your desire to help and understand if there were more like you there would be less feral animals out there. Don't fret over ownership issues, they will work themselves out. Don't know what state you are in but there is a program called' Maddies" fund check it out. Best Baby Bob
  • Amanda KasprzakAmanda Kasprzak Member Posts: 1
    Accepted Answer
    Cherry, Aw, that's too bad! You should put out food for the poor cat. Maybe you should try to pet it, and bond with it. Then you could get close enough to study the right rear foot. You could take it to the vet, or let it stay with you. It is nice of you to care for a cat who probably has to get it's own food. Tiger
  • Lois HooverLois Hoover Member Posts: 1
    Accepted Answer
    All of my cats ( 18 all together ) were feral. It took quite awhile ( over a year ) to get everyone trapped, nutered, or spayed. I kept them fed while trapping them. It was not all done at the same time, litter by litter. The Mother was almost impossible, but I did get her, after she had about three litters. Some I found homes for, but I could not take them to our shelter. The shelter in my area is very nice, no kill. But, they were packed everytime I had a new litter. So, I just kept them. It's just my Husband and me, so we have made room. I turned my basement / family room into a cat area, my sunroom/family room is another cat hang out, and four are living in the garage, it's climate controled. I just could not put them back outside. We live in the country and it's full of cyotes. They have settled in, and I think they just appreciate a home. I think they have made the best housecats ever. I would keep him, feed him, have his shots and nuter. Try to find him a home.
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