The neighborhood tom that saunters down your street. The timid felines that dart under the restaurant dumpster.  The litter of kittens that were born under your neighbor’s porch. If you happened to missed them, know they are there. Stray and feral cats are everywhere.


To most of us they appear fairly benign. We show our compassion by putting out a bowl of food or maybe a shelter in the cold winter months. However, while these cats need our care and compassion, they more desperately need our intervention!


Facts about Feral Cats
How to Build a Outdoor Cat Shelter
FIV and Feral Cats
Spay and Neuter Resources
How to Help 


The Facts about Feral Cats

Feral, or unsocialized, cats are a particular challenge in our communities.  While young feral kittens can be successfully socialized and placed into homes, older kittens and cats cannot.  They are not house pets, they are not tame.  For these cats, the most humane and compassionate thing we can do is provide them a safe environment to live in and ensure that their population does not grow. 

Trap/Neuter/Return (TNR) is the most humane way to manage the feral cat population. The feral cats are trapped using humane box traps. The cats are then veterinarian-checked, spayed or neutered, inoculated against rabies, and usually treated for fleas, ear mites, worms, minor bacterial infections and dehydration. Kittens and tame cats are adopted into good homes. Healthy cats too feral to be adopted are returned to their familiar surroundings under the ongoing care of a responsible caretaker.  Cats that are ill or injured beyond recovery are not returned to their environment.

TNR is far more successful than trap-and-kill programs for many reasons:

  • It immediately halts the population growth in the colony that has formed around the food source.
  • The population of that colony stabilizes, as the sterilized animals prevent the addition of new animals and eventually the colony size decreases over time as the cats die off naturally.
  • The nuisance behaviors commonly exhibited by animals that haven’t been spayed or neutered are eliminated when the animals are sterilized.
  • Since the end result of TNR programs is not the death of the cats, they are usually carried out by unpaid volunteers, often the cats’ caretakers, and the surgeries are most often performed at no expense to taxpayers.

With some patience and persistence, you can safely trap, sterilize and prevent two cats from becoming 25.

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Spay and Neuter Resources

Animal Friends’ Low-Cost Spay/Neuter program has a feral cat package, including spay/neuter, rabies vaccination and eartipping, for $35 per cat. Call us at 412.847.7004 to schedule your feral cats for surgery and for advice on trapping and colony management.

You can help us humanely manage the feral cat population by sponsoring a spay. Click here to underwrite a spay surgery for a feral cat.

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Ferals at Risk

In addition to having to contend with harsh weather conditions, scare food and water and physical dangers such as cars, feral cats are also at a higher risk of contracting Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). 

FIV or Feline Immunodeficiency Virus is slow-acting virus that is similar to its human counter part, HIV.  FIV is not dangerous to humans but is a health-risk and can be spread between cats.  FIV attacks the cat’s immune system and its ability to ward off infections.  Once a cat has been infected with FIV, it is contagious for life. In early stages, the disease may go unnoticed, especially in ferals. FIV is spread between cats through body fluids.

Most cases of FIV infection come from bites sustained during cat fights. FIV is rarely spread through just causal contact. Ultimately and sadly, FIV is a fatal disease.

Click here for a downloadable pdf on FIV.

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How to Help

Community support is critical.  Whether you are a colony caretaker providing care for ferals, a concerned neighbor who is willing to learn more and become a feral volunteer or if you would like to financially support this important work, we welcome you.  For more information on how you can be part of the solution, write to Carol Whaley at

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FAQ Questions and Answers

Do you have a question about feral cats in your neighborhood? Send your question to


Q. I’ve noticed cat prints in the snow in my back yard. What should I do?

See the answer here, at our blog!


Q.  I know Trap/Neuter/Return (TNR) is supposed to be humane, but I worry about feral cats when they’re returned to the wild. How do they survive?

See the answer here, at our blog!


Q. I am feeding a colony feral cats and would like to try to tame the cats. Is this a good idea?

See the answer here, at our blog!


Q. I have successfully had every member of the colony spayed or neutered...expect one.  I am having a lot of trouble trapping the very last cat.  Do you have any tips?

See the answer here, at our blog!

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Animal Friends

Caryl Gates Gluck Resource Center
562 Camp Horne Road | Pittsburgh, PA 15237
Phone: 412.847.7000 | Fax: 412.847.7001

Copyright 2013 Animal Friends Inc.