Homeless Cats SA
There are around half a million homeless cats in SA and this number is growing daily.
Homeless cats are usually domestic cats who are lost or abandoned. Many are frequently or infrequently fed by well intentioned cat and animal lovers but unfortunately this behaviour simply extends a lifestyle of danger, disease, discomfort and illness.
Food alone isn't love! A cat needs all the benefits of a loving home. And you can help.
The true size of the problem
Here's a startling fact - there are currently around half a million homeless cats in SA. That equates to around 1 cat for every 2 households. In some instances homeless cats converge in colonies but often the cats are independent and simply 'live' around the suburbs seeking food supplies wherever they can - from a 'friendly' resident, garbage raids or killing native and local wildlife. Homeless cats frequently starve to death, are ravaged by disease or injuries or become victims of predator attacks or motor accidents. Cats multiply at an alarming rate and just one homeless cat can be responsible for producing up to 41 kittens a year. In only 4 short years 1 homeless female cat and her kittens can produce a grand total of 3,822 feral cats. We need to act swiftly. Simply or only feeding homeless cats is not the answer. They need to be desexed and they need a loving home - one where they belong, are welcome and safe and have shelter and companionship, as well as food.
How does this affect you?
Homeless cats affect us all. They prey on wildlife, fight with our domestic cats, spread infectious diseases, spray urine, defecate and can be extremely noisy, keeping the neighbourhood awake at night. They breed constantly and repopulate at an alarming rate. Their kittens create a mountain of work for animal shelters who need to continuously find loving homes for them - sadly, with so many some are not suitable for adoption. Homeless cats come in a myriad of different shapes, sizes and personalities. Not all are aggressive or unkept. Frequently (around 60% of cases) homeless cats are the innocent looking local cat that everyone feeds but no-one knows who owns. They may be abandoned domestic cats or be lost or discarded by their owners. They may also be the unfortunate victims of a change in circumstance - a house move, death of an owner or simply became lost some time ago.
A look at the life of a homeless cat
Thanks to some significant research (both in Australia and overseas) we now have a well developed insight into the life of a homeless cat - their circumstances, habits, social hierarchy and even recreational activities.
- Most of their lives are spent seeking food and security, avoiding danger and marking and remarking their territory.
- Homeless female cats spend a considerable amount of time pregnant or initially raising kitten litters. Males meanwhile fight for territory and seek females during mating seasons.
- Homeless cats either operate as independent loners or as part of a colony of similar animals. The lone cats tend to move around much more frequently in the search for food and shelter while the colony cats secure and protect camp areas as long as possible.
- Food can come from several sources - garbage pickings, hunting wildlife, stealing from domestic and other animal bowls or by whining at doors to tempt animal lovers to unwittingly provide domestic food (many homeless cats nurture a community of feeders)
Homeless v owned - how to tell the difference
It's often hard to tell the difference between an owned or homeless cat - not all homeless cats are vicious or feral. Neither do they all live in packs or colonies. Homeless cats generally come from 2 different sources - feral cats born on the street who survive against the odds or domestic cats who are abandoned or lost. As feral cats rarely allow human interaction any cat that responds to your call or approaches you direct is likely to be either owned or homeless. If it has a collar with an identification tag (phone number, address etc) or has an "M" tattooed just within its ear (indicating it holds a microchip) it is an owned, domestic cat.
Even without any visible identification the cat should still be scanned to ensure a microchip and therefore ownership details that would allow it to be returned to its family are not present.
Without any form of identification it is quite probably an unowned, homeless cat living a desperate life of danger, disease, hunger and discomfort. Unfortunately feeding homeless cats only prolongs the misery. Every cat needs a loving home with all the trimmings, not just occasional food. Contact your local council, RSPCA or Animal Welfare League to find out how you can really save it's life and either adopt it or help it to find a real home.