Are you aware of the feral cat problem at UNLV?

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Did you know that Clark County is about home to 200,000 feral cats?

I bet you do not know what the difference is between feral and stray cats? Alley Cat Allies defines stray cats vs feral cats as:

Stray: A stray cat is a cat who has been socialized to people at some point in her life, but has left or lost her domestic home, as well as most human contact and dependence.

Feral: A feral cat is a cat who has either never had any contact with humans or his/her contact with humans has diminished over time. She is fearful of people and survives on her own outdoors. A feral cat is not likely to ever become a lap cat or enjoy living indoors.

Feral cats are not only a concern on the UNLV campus but throughout the valley. Feral cats can lead to zoonotic diseases, unwanted cats/kittens (pregnancy) and ill & emaciated cats/kittens. Feral cats if unaltered can mark property with urine and spread disease from rodents they may pick up. 

An article KNPR ran called "Cat Catch Fever" stated:

About 90% of feral kittens have a mortality rate due to illness. The shelters alone euthanize about 7,000 feral cats/kittens a year.

Most feral cats are due to neglectful owners in the first place. Owners who abandon their pets and/or irresponsible pet owners. A pet is for life. If the owner can no longer care for the cat, they must try to find a proper home for it. Re-homing is possible but just takes time and work. The shelter may take the cat in but if overcrowded then it may be euthanized. Owners should try working with local rescue groups.

A program called TNR (trap, neuter and release) seem to help with altering but the after care is no longer the responsibility of these rescue groups. Rescue groups use their own time and money in to helping feral cats get fixed and checked up with the vet. Some groups will continue to feed the feral colony and try to adopt out friendly feral cats/kittens. When you see a cat with a tipped ear this will mean the cat is altered and usually belongs to a feral cat community. If you are providing feral cats with food, water and shelter then you will need to take ownership and responsibility in maintaining the feral colony that lives in that area. If you are do not want that responsibility then do not feed feral cats instead contact a rescue group and make arrangements on what to do. 

Knowledge is power. Informing the student body and starting a group on campus that can help control and keep the feral cat population down and by trying to adopt out cats/kittens that are more sociable. Also by working with trapping rescue groups and providing food, water and shelter if the feral cats may stay.

 

IMPORTANT - Spay/Neuter your cat. Especially if you cat will be indoor/outdoor. This not only prevents unwanted pregnancy it can help with long term medical illness like cancer in the uterus, mammary glands and testicles.

By understanding the expressions of the feral cat this will help you understand their mental state. Feral cats must live day by day hunting their own food. They can be frightened by environmental factors and can get sick with no one to take care of them. Students on campus can overwhelm the cats. Giving the feral cats attention can make them more likely to become a stray cat and adoptable. The concern is that the cat may feel let down when the student showing affection may leave. The cat may follow the student and could end up hit by a car or trapped somewhere and even starve to death.Bottom line is that if the cat is friendly then the cat needs to be helped in finding a home. 

My hope is that we, "the student body at UNLV"  would want to take a helping stance. Work with rescue groups and TNR programs for feral cats. Also work with grounds-keeping staff and make sure that the cats are properly taken care of. My experience as a Licensed Veterinary Technician adds credibility to my concern on this matter. I work with rescue groups daily and all my pets are rescues as well. I have been licensed in Nevada for 10 years and I would like to teach pet owners the proper way of caring for a pet and how to be responsible. Hopefully we can help make a change in our community. 



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