Feeding Feral Cats

Feeding Feral Cats

Feral Cats


  1. Feral Cats and the Ant-Proof, Bird-Proof, Outdoor Pet Feeder
  2. Dogs and the Outdoor Pet Feeder
  3. What to do if you find a stray cat... or one finds you
  4. Feral cats…
  5. How much food do cats need?
  6. Managing A Feral Cat Colony
  7. Colony size
  8. Feedings stations
  9. Feral cat sterilization - Trap, Neuter and Return (TNR)
  10. Stop yowling, spraying, and fighting within your colony
  11. Pay attention to signs of aggression
  12. Bites and Scratches
  13. If you find kittens
  14. Kitten Development


1.    Feral Cats and the Ant-Proof, Bird-Proof, Outdoor Pet Feeder

According to The U.S. Humane Society, there are approximately 17,000,000 people who provide food to stray and feral felines.  Feeding these homeless animals not only helps them, but serves to protect bird and insect populations in the areas where feral cats hunt.

The Carter Pets Ant-Proof Pet Feeder is designed to help make the most of your volunteer dollars by protecting the food you provide to stray and feral cats.

The deep moat design keeps debris from forming land bridges for insects to cross.  The Sheltered Outdoor Pet Feeder offers additional protection and not only will the feeder be weather-resistant, but ants and most birds will not be able to steal the food.

2.    Dogs and the Outdoor Pet Feeder

The Ant-Proof Outdoor Pet Feeder works great for feeding small dogs outside.  The food bowl itself is secured and surrounded by a moat.  Large dogs can sometimes dislodge the interior bowl from its original position, which can create the possibility for insects to get into the food. For this reason, we suggest the feeder for small dogs only.

3.    What to do if you find a stray cat... or one finds you

Many cat owners allow their pets outside.   If you happen to see a new cat in your area, we recommend observing it for a few days before assuming it is stray or feral.  Friendly, well-groomed cats are probably pets.

If a cat is lost, it may act like a feral cat, so approach with caution.   If a cat is lost, whatever you can do to help reunite it with its family will be greatly appreciated and best for everyone concerned.  Putting up signs around the neighborhood can be very helpful.

If you feed a cat, chances are, it will eventually trust you.  If it was someone's pet, it will begin acting like a companion, while a feral cat may stay skittish forever.

4.    Feral Cats

If you find stray cats on your property, your first thought may be to trap the cats and take them to the local animal control shelter.  Unfortunately, that usually leads to euthanasia.

Feral CatsIf you are not willing to become a caretaker, feral cats are best left as they are.   If you are willing to care for feral cats, realize that there may be other, more timid ones hiding nearby.  Their primary needs are food, water, and dry shelter.

Feeding stray and feral cats helps protect birds and other animals upon which cats generally prey, including rats, mice, lizards, and insects.

Always keep fresh water available.

5.    How much food do cats need?

We recommend 3/4 to 1 cup of food, per day, for each cat.  We believe that dry food is best for a cat's dental health, and does not spoil as quickly as wet food.

Each Carter Pets Ant-Proof Pet Feeder can hold enough food for 12 cats for one day.   Six cats for two days, etc.  Many people use more than one feeder and refill every other day.

By maintaining a constant routine, your cats will anticipate feeding times.  This helps keep your cats healthy and serves to bond them more completely to your household or colony.

6.    Managing A Feral Cat Colony

The first step is to begin feeding.  Try to be consistent in the time of day you feed.  If you need to miss a feeding, it's always good to have a backup plan, where someone else can fill in.

7.    Colony Size

Colonies range in size from 4-40 cats depending on the size of their food supply.  Feral cats are most active between dusk and dawn.  They fear people and often keep out of sight.   

Large properties may support more than one colony.   You may need multiple feeding stations.

8.    Feeding Stations

If you are feeding colonies away from your home, feeding stations will be necessary.  Feeding stations will insure that all of the cats are fed and not just those who come out when the caretaker arrives.

Feeding stations are best kept out of sight.  This protects the cats and helps keep food from being contaminated or destroyed.  The more discreet you are in caretaking, the better for all concerned.

Keep pet food dry and provide plenty of fresh water.

9.    Feral Cat Sterilization - Trap, Neuter, and Return

Once the cats are used to eating in only place, it's time to trap the cats and get them spayed or neutered.  Many veterinarians have programs to help volunteers sterilize their feral colony members and discount prices.  Sterilization helps limit the size of your colony.

There are many local agencies willing to help.  Try animal welfare organizations including
the American Veterinary Association (AVMA), The Cat Fanciers' Association, The
National Pet Alliance and Alley Cat Allies.  The Humane Society has a listing all such organizations, by state.  Also check with you local animal rescue, and TNR groups in your area.

Kittens can be sterilized after a few months of age.  If you are able to help them socialize, once they are weaned, they can be adopted.

Managed, feral cats can live a quality life for ten years or more.  Caring for them can be very rewarding for both you and the cats.

10.    Stop yowling, spraying, and fighting within your colony

Cats are territorial.  Male cats will exhibit yowling and spraying to challenge intruders.

The best way to stop this behavior in your colony is to sterilize its members.  

TNR is a solution that not only controls feral cat populations, but also improves and extends the lives of colony members.

11.    Pay attention to signs of aggression

If you see a cat exhibiting signs of aggression, leave it alone and let it calm down.  Here are some of the typical signs of agitation.  Do not force contact.  

  • Long drawn-out meow
  • Hissing or growling
  • Swishing tail rapidly
  • Eyes dilated
  • Raising a paw to strike
  • Ears laid back or flat out to the sides
12.    Bites and Scratches

Cat bites and scratches can be very serious.  If a bite breaks the skin, wash it well and if infection develops, seek immediate medical attention. Infection can set in overnight, so monitor bites carefully.

13.    If you find kittens

People find feral cats with kittens in their garages, under their porches, almost anywhere.  Although kittens may look recently abandoned, the mother may be out hunting.  

As long as the kittens are in a protected spot, monitor the situation and put food out for the mother.  If she doesn't return, then you may want to help.  If the kittens are younger than 8 weeks, it is still possible to socialize them to people.  Older cats can be tamed, but the process becomes more difficult the longer they are in the wild.

14.    Kitten DevelopmentCarter Kitten
  • Gestation Period 63 days
  • Birth - Eyes closed  / ears folded
  • 5 Days - Loses umbilical cord
  • 5-13 Days - Eyes open
  • 14 Days - Teething begins
  • 18 Days - Litter box use begins
    • Ears straighten
    • Crawling begins
  • 21 Days - Litter box training complete
    • Starts eating wet kitten food
  • 28-35 Days-  Kitten stands
    • Weaning process begins
    • Able to chew dry food
    • Eyes become clear
    • Ears stand fully upright
  • 14-49 Days Critical socialization window
  • 42 Days Deworm and vaccinate (FRTC)
  • 56 Days Littermates can be separated
Carter Pets would like to thank everyone who shares our values in helping to provide homeless cats with food and shelter.  If each of us do our part, we can accomplish great things.

- The Carter Pets Team