Feral Trap/Neuter/Return Program
It is estimated that there are about 800,000 feral cats in Cook County and up to 60 million feral cats nationwide. What to do about feral cats is a controversial subject. Discussions about this issue usually become very emotional. On one end of the spectrum of opinions are people who strongly believe that all feral cats should be eliminated by whatever means available. As you can imagine, this is a highly unpopular belief among most cat lovers. At the other end there are those that believe feral cats have every right to live “free” with no intervention. Most people believe that something needs to be done about the large feral cat population but want to keep the cats alive. Currently, there is little scientific data to objectively evaluate various approaches to reducing the feral population and in reality, there is no one solution that will work in every community.
In Nov. 2007, a Cook County ordinance took effect that allows the establishment of managed feral cat colonies if they are registered with a department approved sponsor.
Any humane society can be a sponsor – their major responsibilities are:
- Approve feral cat colony caretakers
- Help resolve any complaints concerning the cat colonies
- Maintain records (size, location, vaccination, micro-chipping, S/N)
- Provide written educational training for caretakers
- Report annually
Feral cat colony caretaker major responsibilities are to:
- Register the colony
- Vaccinate for rabies, micro-chip, and sterilize the cats
- Eartip left ear of cat that has been vaccinated and sterilized
- Provide food, water, shelter, and medical attention
- Observe the colony at least twice per week and keep records
- Obtain written approval of property owner if require access to provide colony care
- Remove kittens after weaned and find homes for them and sterilize the queen
- Report semi-annually
The Anti-Cruelty Society encourages and supports actions to minimize the problem of free-roaming abandoned and feral cats. We provide traps to facilitate feral cat colony management. During the 5 years that we have been providing free sterilizations for feral cats, we have performed over 4000 surgeries. And of course, prevention is critical – public education that reduces the number of cats abandoned or allowed outside unsupervised and the number of kittens being born is an essential component.