How do I Feed a Feral Cat Colony?
Properly feeding a feral cat colony is important to the well-being of the cats, their caretaker and your neighbors. It is also important in order to keep away predators and insects and cut down on food waste.
Here are our tips and tricks for feeding a feral cat colony.
Make sure to always put food in food bowls that are metal or ceramic. These are easier to keep clean and you will waste less food than if you placed food on the ground.
By putting food in bowls you also have more control on how much food each cat gets, you can observe the cats better and note if any are eating less or if they need more, and you can keep the area where you feed clean as to not attract insects or predators and make people mad.
Make sure to always feed cats only cat food. Cats are lactose intolerant and cannot drink milk. Human food can also spoil which can attract insects and cause gastrointestinal issues.
Always provide fresh and clean water. Rubber bowls or heated bowls help in winter from stopping the water turning to ice.
It is important for the cats to have a clean water source. It helps prevent giardia and other intestinal parasites and keeps the cats healthy.
Never feed at night. If you want to feed twice a day that is fine but make sure to always pick up all food after an hour.
Feeding at night attracts raccoons, foxes, and other wildlife to your feeding area and neighborhood. This can be unsafe to the cats and people in the area.
Never leave food out all day. This attracts predators and insects and is a waste of food. Only give enough food for the cats to eat in an hour, usually 1 cup of dry per cat. Any uneaten food should then be picked up after an hour.
The best, safest and cleanest way to feed feral cats is to make a feeding station. They are super easy to make and all the materials can be bought at most stores.
You need a 20 gallon storage container, a large rock or brick, and a box cutter.
First turn the storage container upside down. Choose a side to cut your door in. Trace a door that is 6 inches by 6 inches. Place the door close to one of the edges.
Once that is done take your box cutters and cut the door out. To make it easier you can use a drill and put holes in each corner then start your cuts at these holes.
Place your food bowls in the container in the furthest corner from the door. This makes it harder for predators to grab food from the bowls if they are not able to get into the door.
Place your rock or brick on top of the container to keep it from being blown away or easily moved.
For more detailed instructions on how to build a feeding station click here for a downloadable pdf.
If you feed a colony that is not on a property you own you should always ask permission from the property owner first.
In general we recommend not feeding a colony not own your own property, this is because it is harder to observe the cats and if that property ever changes owners you will need to re-ask permission which could be difficult.
You do not have the right to feed the cats if they are not on your property, so you are at the property owners discretion on what they will allow or what they want.
The most important thing to know when feeding a feral cat colony is to make sure all the cats are spayed/neutered, vaccinated and ear tipped. Never feed a colony that isn’t fixed, it is okay to start feeding them to establish a feeding schedule to trap, but you should always have a plan to get them fixed as soon as possible.
If you start feeding a colony that is not fixed you are not helping the cats. Unfixed cats spread diseases to each other because they fight more often, get injured more because they are likely to roam more, and can make your neighbors angry.