SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - Rowan County is dealing with a feral, or stray cat problem that has homeowners frustrated and Animal Control workers staying very busy.
By definition, a feral cat is a domesticated cat that has returned to the wild, or the descendants of such an animal. It is distinguished from a stray cat, which is a pet cat that has been lost or abandoned, while feral cats have never been socialized. The offspring of a stray cat can be considered feral if born in the wild. In many parts of the world, feral cats are the offspring of unaltered domestic cats, according to Louise Holton, author of Wild Things? An Introduction to Feral Cats.
And, according to the Humane Society, there are differences between feral cats and stray cats.
A stray cat is a pet who has been lost or abandoned, is used to contact with people, and is tame enough to be adopted. A feral cat is the offspring of stray or feral cats and is not accustomed to human contact. Feral cats are usually too fearful to be handled or adopted, according to the Humane Society web page.
Stray cats may be reunited with their families or adopted into new homes, but feral cats will find it difficult or impossible to adapt to living as pets in close contact with people. But that doesn't mean there aren't many things you can do to improve feral cats' health and quality of life.
On Monday a viewer sent a note to WBTV about a cat problem in his neighborhood.
“It started with three and has now grown to seven and one of them appears to be pregnant. My son doesn't want to play in the yard because of the cats,” the viewer wrote. “They do their business in my flower beds and yard. They get into my out buildings and sleep and God only knows what else. My neighbor across the street feeds them but doesn't want them in her yard so she feeds them in my next door neighbor's yard.”
The viewer also expressed frustration at the response he got from Animal Control.
“I went to Animal Control today, explained the whole situation and was told that if I wanted an officer to come out and set a trap for the cats it would be 3 weeks to a month before they could. They offered to let me take a trap with me but then I would have to trap it and use my gas to take it back to them. I would have to do this each time I caught a cat. Why should I have to do it? They aren't my cats! I just don't understand why this is my responsibility,” he added.
WBTV contacted Clai Martin, the director of Animal Control in Rowan County. Martin agreed with the viewer's assessment, but said the problem is county wide.
“Yes, everyone is having the same problem,” Martin wrote. “We are being overwhelmed with stray cat problems.”
For now there is no simple solution, according to officials. Animal Control is trying to get a handle on the problem.
The Humane Society says that the only real answer to the problem is the spaying and neutering of cats.
“Spaying or neutering community (feral and stray) cats using trap-neuter-return (TNR) will reduce their numbers. Spaying or neutering pet cats before they reproduce will reduce their numbers and help stop pet overpopulation,” it says on the web site.
The Humane Society web site has a special page dedicated to stray and feral cats and offers advice and answers to frequently asked questions. To view the page, follow this link: