Free Roaming/Feral/Stray/Community Cats
If you encounter a cat colony, free roaming single cat or a sick cat in your neighborhood, there are many resources available to you. Unfortunately, rescues are often not able to help because they are at capacity or have no funds to support taking in these cats. We are located in Manatee County and partner with several private animal rescue organizations as well as Manatee and Hillsborough County Animal Shelters to help control the overpopulation of these free roaming cats. These cats fall in the following categories and each category requires different handling:
Lost or Missing Pets
The first thing to understand is that if you see a free roaming cat, he or she may actually belong to someone. Whether the pet owner chooses to let their cat free-roam, or their pet has gone missing from their home due to unforeseen circumstances, we understand that you want to and should take action. Here are some things, you should do first when you find a friendly cat that is free roaming:
The cat is in danger outside, and in some counties, it is illegal to have your personal pet roaming outside, so check your county ordinance.
Be a good neighbor and check with them first if they are missing their pet.
If you find the owner and they indicate they let their pet free roam, try to educate about county ordinance and the dangers out there for the cats.
Post signs in your neighborhood to see if someone is missing a cat.
If no one comes forward, you can take it to a local vet or pet store to get it scanned for a microchip for free to make sure you can keep the cat legally as your own. If a microchip is found, the registered owner will have to be notified and be given the choice to keep or surrender their animal to you. Surrendering means they have to transfer the microchip registration to you officially.
Once you have followed all of the steps above and the friendly cat or kitten is yours, then you have the choice to keep it and get it medical care, spay/neuter, test for diseases, fecal checks, a bath, nail trim, vaccinations and a microchip. Or you can take it to the local animal shelter or rescue organization.
A feral cat is basically a wild cat. This type of cat exhibits wild behavior, they are scared of people and avoid any human contact. They could have been abandoned by someone a long time ago, or they could have been born to a wild parent. Young kittens that are feral still have a chance to be domesticated with human interaction, and some adult cats may also be rehabilitated but a lot of adult feral cats will not be able to be socialized.
If you encounter kittens with a mom, it is important to trap the entire family together unless you know for sure the kittens are weaned and can survive on their own.
If you are unable to trap the cats, at least provide food and water and shelter if needed. If they cats stay in your area after that, then you can contact a rescue or your local County Shelter or Humane Society for help. A lot of times however, these organizations will not trap the cats for you as part of a trap, neuter, and release program (TNR). Spaying and neutering them will prevent more overpopulation of an already bad problem and you are being a good citizen by doing so. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and try to find you the help you need to the best of our ability.
For Manatee County, the Humane Society has a great program where you can drop off your feral cat in a trap without an appointment on Tuesdays and pick them back up to release them back where you found them. The link to that program is: Humane Society of Manatee County Trap/Neuter/Return (TNR) Feral Cats - Humane Society of Manatee County (humanemanatee.org)
For information on how to deal with a sick or injured cat please follow the link below, it has a lot of good information. Preferably, as a community member you would take the animal to an animal Emergency Room in your area and surrender it there if they take it.
Alley Cat Allies website: What to Do With Sick or Injured Stray Cats | Alley Cat Allies