Feral Cat Project
Far from leading idyllic, free-ranging lives, feral cats are far too often the victims of illness, accident or injury, and starvation. Without intervention, most feral cats lead short lives, filled with suffering.
TEARS is on a mission – as it’s been for several years – to not allow this out-of-sight-out-of-mind suffering to continue without doing something about it.
The need to bring relief to these cats, as well as compassionately manage rapidly expanding feral colonies, is an important part of our mission, and close to our hearts.
Feral cats are sometimes also called community cats, because many are not wild-born, but have been thrown out, abandonment or become lost. If guardians have failed to sterilise these cats, the problem soon multiplies in the form of litter after litter of cats born to a life of suffering.
These cats often form a feral colony with other cats and develop complex family structures that defend a territory, occupy places in which to shelter, and spend much of the time searching for food.
A female, as young as six-months, can have three litters of kittens a year and the colony begins to expand at a startling speed and in frightening numbers. These young females experience high levels of stress while nursing, and without human intervention as many as half of the litter may die.
TEARS Feral Cat Project carries out the Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) practice – feral cats are trapped and brought to the clinic, then sterilised, vaccinated for rabies, de-wormed, treated for fleas and ticks, and ear-tipped. This is the surgical removal of the extreme tip of the cat’s ear to identify them has having been sterilised. They are then, as quickly as possible, returned to the colony they came from. Trappings – often late at night – are carried out or managed by committed TEARS staff and volunteers.
The aim of our Feral Cat Project is to formalise and compassionately manage the cats that have already been sterilised and treated by TEARS, and to expand our ability to treat these cats and educate surrounding communities.
On average, we sterilise around 300 cats a month from feral colonies across Cape Town from Sunnydale Caravan Park close to our headquarters, to areas further afield, like Bluegum, Ruyterwacht, Kraaifontein and Scottsdene.
The numbers of individuals and colonies we are able to help is dependent on the generous support of animal lovers like yourself. You can help us further this vital work by:
Stories from feral cat colonies
Letting go is important when fostering kittens or puppies – it’s so easy to get attached very quickly.
I am proud to have, for years, been part of a very special group of volunteers who work on the TEARS Feral Cat Project that manages to trap, sterilise, feed and treat so many thousands of feral cats across the peninsula.
A while ago, we trapped a black and white cat for sterilisation at Cape Town University of Technology (CPUT) near Cape Town’s CBD. It turned out that the horse had already bolted because this girl was very pregnant so her steri turned into a C-section and what do you know – four beautiful babies.
She stayed with me at my home – confined, of course, because remember this mom is a feral. Six weeks she raised her babies who grew up strong and really well-adjusted so Mommy went back. Sure, it would take a day or two for her to adjust but then she’d settle back into feral life. And she did that. It went beautifully.
We still see her, and she’s well-fed by the feeders at CPUT. The kittens every now and then holler for mommy but soon forgotten when chicken arrives – that seems to make the world a good place for kittens.
I have been asked many times if she Mommy remembers where the chicken comes from when it’s placed around where she lives, to fill empty feral bellies – WELL, YES, she does. They definitely remember.
I have a friend who runs a cattery and each year the furries come in to stay and it’s obvious that remember the boarding hotel from their last stay.
It’s the same with our ferals – we’re there to help and they know it.