Happy Feral Cat Day!

A feral cat is a descendant of a domesticated cat that has returned to the wild. It is distinguished from a stray cat, which is a pet cat that has been lost or abandoned, while feral cats are born in the wild; the offspring of a stray cat can be considered feral if born in the wild.

Almost 13 years ago I took my first job out of veterinary school at what is now the Seattle Humane Society. We had a program where feral trappers would sometimes bring us in cats, we would spay/neuter them and then send them back with the trappers. This was my first introduction to the world of Trap/Neuter/Return also known as TNR.

Cats being transported for spay/neuter

In my first few months, I met a woman named Pamela who would come in with two to four cats at a time. I got to talking to her one morning and she was concerned that there was one more cat she needed to trap. She was worried that she would manage to trap it that evening and then wasn’t able to drive it in the next morning because she had another commitment. I looked down at her address and discovered that she lived two blocks from my house and offered to take the cat with me in the morning. And so begin my journey into learning about what Pamela did in her spare time.

For a few years Pamela trapped cats, I drove them into work and fixed them and then drove them back in the evening. It’s been 10 years since I quit my job at the Humane Society, however Pamela’s work has not only continued but she has moved far beyond the occasional two or three cats. She now has an organization that she runs called FCAT (feral cat assistance and trapping) and with volunteer help is able to spay/neuter almost 1000 cats a year. That is a pretty impressive number when you consider that one breeding pair of cats can be responsible for producing over 2000 offspring in four years. Most of these are ferals, however she will help anyone who needs a cat (or in some cases a dog) fixed.

My sweet boy Tug who was born to a feral mom and tamed by Pamela

She also tames the feral kittens she finds while trapping and adopts them out to good homes. My sweet tuxedo boy Tug was one of her feral kittens and you wouldn’t know it today as he is the official greeter of anyone entering our home. In addition she talks to people from all over the country to try to help set them up with feral trappers in their area or to give advice about trapping and caring for these feral cats.

This is hard work but she feels like this is her mission to help these cats that are forgotten.

Each year in the United States between 3-4 million animals are euthanized in shelters. Many of these are feral cats or the offspring of feral cats. In my shelter work it became clear that pet overpopulation could not be ended until the feral populations could be controlled. Trapping and killing doesn’t work (that is a whole article in itself). People like Pamela are helping to reduce this number every day.

FCAT feral cat holding area

Today on feral cat day, Pamela is bringing sixty cats in to be fixed at the Feral Cat Spay/Neuter Project. This means that in four years there will be 120,000 less cats born. It’s amazing what one person’s actions can achieve.

Today we honor Pamela, her dedicated volunteers, and all the people out there making a difference in ending pet overpopulation! Thank you!

For more information about feral cats see

Will you consider making a donation to one of these great groups in honor of Feral Cat Day?

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