I have a soft spot for animals and learned why you shouldn't feed feral cats.
How Cat Overpopulation Can End in Disaster
Today it finally happened. My phone rang, and in a sleepy daze, I could recognize the disturbance in my husband's voice: one of the feral kittens got killed. We were counting our blessings that we never witnessed any cats big or small dart across the parking lot to escape an untimely demise. Sneaking through an unkempt lawn with fancy feast cans and cat poo was adventurous enough for us.
There are certain ways to manage your pet in a single-family home or an apartment complex. I've never paid a pet deposit, so I'm not aware of the spiel beyond telling residents where the designated walk areas and poop bags are. I imagine kitty owners understand the need for a quality litter box that gets cleaned often.
Why You Shouldn't Feed Feral Cats
1. Heavy Traffic
Is the apartment complex abandoned, or are people actively coming and going to their homes? Every day I'm striking my car horn to send a quick notice to a neighbor that likes to throw their car in reverse without looking. When we first head to our vehicle, I have to wade through the field of tall grass to keep me and my daughter from getting hit by cars. In a busy apartment lot, no one is thinking about whether there's an animal under their wheels or darting by.
2. Messy Grounds
By now you've read my mention of poop, tall grass, and food cans enough to assume that I live at a dump. The issue is several people began to feed the cats and no one is returning to remove empty cans and containers. While our apartment does have a porter service, they have an entire map of land acres to deal with for 8 hours during the day. Imagine how laborious it can be to try to service one overrun area properly?
Daily, we can see glass salad bowls and other pricey belongings full of cat food and cooked leftovers as if someone has committed to feeding the feral squad at the expense of their hunger and dinnerware sets. It doesn't take long for the whole property to start looking bad. The trash on the ground here is now beyond embarrassing for the high amount we pay in rent.
3. Potential to Lose Your Own Cat
If you have an indoor/outdoor cat, make sure it wears a collar. You never know when you'll be at work and animal control is contacted regarding stray animals. If your animal gets caught in the mix, you could lose your fury pal forever. It's great for the cats to socialize and play, but if you haven't gotten your pet spayed or neutered, then you'll be caring for a surprise litter soon. It becomes a terrible cycle of more cats on the loose until someone finally places the call.
4. Safety of Others
Feral cats are usually missing various shots and checkups. They can have diseases that you don't want to be in close contact with. Think about the residents who have cat allergies or children. Feeding feral cats imposes a situation on you and your neighbors who may not want to deal with an animal.
There have been many times that we came home at night to see a cat or two around our door. We are not feeding them, but they have found a great new location to get shelter from the rain. One of the cats must have gotten sick or something overnight because the next morning we had some type of ugly slime outside of our door. It was in the exact location where the cats were hanging out. It was so gross, even the porter hasn't cleaned it. It has since dried up and is very unsightly each day we come home. My daughter is curious about the cats because she has never had a kitten, but we don't let her get too close in fear of the cat feeling threatened and attacking her.
5. Bugs, Bugs, and More Bugs
One group of occupants that are not complaining is the ants. They are overjoyed every time a cat is finished with a bowl of food. They enter the bowl, eat the crumbs, and no one seems to care. I'm not thrilled to see ants or step over their lines to get to the grass. The flies and fleas are other unwanted pests that I don't want to bring into my home. Fleas are hard to get rid of without a pet, and flies are thinking our stairwell is hangout area now.
The Feral Feeding Is a Daily Struggle for the Non-Feeders
Just yesterday we had a lady blocking our stairway as she sat down there feeding and petting the cats. She mentioned she's only feeding them as she slid to one side of the stairs, forcing our whole family to squeeze by her down the narrow stairwell. My husband and I just went along quickly muttering an apology for interrupting her good time.
This morning when animal control rode through our complex we just knew the saga was over. We didn't call them, but the cats were all tucked away on lower balconies and under cars. The one we were mainly concerned about is the one with a home and no collar.
What to Do About Feral Cats at Your Apartment Building
- Get Help: Contact a rescue group. They will help place your mind at ease that the cats will go to a loving place.
- Rescue on Your Own: Put down a pet deposit, take one or two for yourself, and then really take the cats to your home.
- Don't Encourage the Feral Cats: Don't do anything. Don't feed or entertain the cats. They will eventually realize there is no food or love, and therefore no reason to stick around. They will leave on their own and your apartment grounds will be much cleaner.
Consider Adopting a Cat
Our pets are the ones we care for day and night inside our homes or yards. They are a responsibility that is very personal, and though they might disturb our immediate neighbors a little, they shouldn't be a bother to everyone. I appreciate your genuine concern in feeding feral cats but consider the problem you’re contributing to the next time you want to feed feral kittens at your apartment building.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.