It is always a pleasant sight to see people who give generously to causes that will most probably not get them anything in return. It reminds us of the good in humanity. Such is the story of a woman who not only spares her time but also $600 every month to care for feral cats in NYC. Reportedly, LaTonya “Sassee” Walker, aged 50, has been tirelessly catering to the needs of the feral cats for over 10 years. Of late, she has had to take care of double the number of feral cats due to the coronavirus pandemic. This is because a lot of elderly people help care for the cats but over the past few weeks, they haven’t been able to come out of their houses following the Coronavirus pandemic. Every day, she takes some water and food to the cats. Over the past few weeks, she has had to bring more food as there is less restaurant garbage they can feed on.
Apart from provide them with food, she also traps and gets them neutered before returning them to the environment they are used to. ASPC helps her a lot with this as it neuters the cats at no cost. However, that is no longer possible as they are closed. She, therefore, has to take the cats to a private vet in Coney Island. Though the vet offers her huge discounts, she still has to part with quite some money. For example, she recently spent about $500 on neutering and other services.
As if what Latonya does is not enough, she accommodates some of these cats under her roof. She has a total of 13 cats – seven pet cats and six wild ones recovering from surgery. Latonya has a passion for protecting and providing for the needs of feral cats and she says she not going to stop anytime soon. “It’s not in my DNA to see a cat suffering and not do anything about it. I’m equipped to make a cat’s life better, so I’m going to,” she says. What Latonya does is quite impressive and commendable. It is not every day that you get to see someone give so selflessly to cats.
According to Humane Society, there are about 3-4 million feral, stray and owned cats within the US. Feral cats form the majority of this number. They are the offspring of other feral cats or those that have been lost and abandoned. Feral cats are wild and fear to come into close contact with people. Trap Neuter and Return (TNR) comes in handy when caring for and managing these cats. The fundamentals of the TNR program involve trapping the cats, taking them to an expert for spaying or neutering and vaccination then returning them to their territories. One should then follow up by providing food and water. During the whole process, friendly cats can be identified and offered for adoption. It is not advisable to take just any feral cat into your home as some may have been already accustomed to life outside hence may not warm up towards you.
Though Animal shelters and rescue groups often cater to the needs of feral cats their efforts may not be sufficient as they are so many. Hence the need of people like Latonya who take it upon themselves to care for them. Life is not easy for feral cats who are not cared for through TNR. They struggle to find food in garbage cans and can also become pregnant as early as 5 months old. Their kittens are likely to suffer from poor nutrition, diseases, parasites or even predation before they mature.
How to Care for Feral Cats
It is important to note that not every cat roaming is feral. Some may just be lost from their homes. A good indicator would be if the cat appears tame. In that case, contact animal agencies within your locality because chances are that the owner has or will report their missing cats to such agencies. If no one claims it, you can keep it or help it locate a suitable home. If the cat is unapproachable and wary even after providing it with food and water several times, it is feral. Below are the steps involved in effectively taking care of feral cats.
Step 1: Find out Related Laws
Find out if your municipality provides rules on caring for feral cats. If it does, ensure to abide by them to protect yourself from getting on the wrong side of the law. Though caring for feral cats by the public is usually a welcome gesture, it is necessary to familiarize yourself with laws concerning feral cats based on ownership, civil liability, feeding bans, and leash laws.
Step 2: Get it Spayed or Neutered.
According to Feral Cats, neutering female feral cats helps prevent uterine infections and breast tumors, and also stops them from going into heat. On the other hand, neutering male cats prevent testicular cancer and some prostate problems. It also makes them better behaved and less likely to roam. Nevertheless, neutering may require you to part with some money. But you can always ask for discounts or research for institutions and organizations around your area that do it for free.
Step 2: Provide Food and Water
It is advisable to provide feral cats with food and water at least once a day. According to Smart Cat Lovers, the best cat foods to purchase include Purina cat chow natural cat food, royal canin fit active dry cat food, diamond naturals real meat dry cat food and sportmix wholesomes chicken mix and rice formulas among others. These can be found in retail stores. Try to always feed them at a designated time during the day to create a routine.
Step 4: Assign them to Someone else in case you Move
According to WebMD once you start feeding feral cats especially those living in colonies, they will be dependent on you just like a domestic cat would. It is therefore important to introduce someone else to feeding and caring for them in case you move.