I’m Moving and What Do I Do With a Feral Cat Colony?

Feral cat colonies can form anywhere that free-roaming cats find food and shelter; be it an urban street, suburban neighborhood, farm, junk yard or salvage pile, building or natural body of water.

Contrary to popular belief, feral cats tend to live in colonies. Relocating a colony should only ever be done under specific conditions and as an absolute last resort.


Before trapping a feral cat colony, it is crucial to assess whether you can continue caring for its members in their current location. If not, find another space or arrange for someone else to care for it while you’re gone. Furthermore, secure permission from property owners before acting; otherwise you could become legally responsible for injuries and deaths of cats found there.

Once you know you can continue caring for the colony, the next step should be making arrangements to feed it. A bowl or two of dry food should be placed where they usually eat. Feeding stations must be located away from any areas frequented by humans and should provide shelter so raccoons, insects and coyotes don’t sneak up and access to their food source. Regular maintenance needs to take place on these stations while fresh water should always be available for cats at these stations.

Feral cats and their young require shelter from the elements during cold weather. While feral cats may seek warmth under car hoods, this could pose risks to both themselves and drivers. You can provide shelter by placing a heated kitty house or an unheated shed near where their colony tends to live in your yard; additionally, leave several smaller shelters where cats can take refuge during bad weather.

Felines are generally solitary creatures; however, colonies that resemble lion prides (sometimes referred to as “pack” or “herd”) may exist for some cats. A dominant male will decide which females have access to sleeping and eating areas as well as how surplus kittens should be handled; all other cats in these colonies share resources on an individual basis with this hierarchy being subject to daily changes.

Feral cats can lead long, healthy lives with regular veterinary care and socialization. Many colonies registered with local TNR programs will see reduced population due to trapping and spaying/neutering programs which help decrease breeding populations while helping the cats lead longer, healthier lives.


Relocating an entire feral cat colony is often considered unwise. Feral cats are highly territorial animals who will most likely attempt to return to their original home territory for food and water – this journey could prove fatal or injury causing. Furthermore, moving entire colonies makes control even harder as new colonies could form nearby; further complicating matters.

If a person caring for a feral cat colony plans on moving, they should make contact with other caregivers in the area to see if any are willing to continue providing daily food and water to the cats – most will happily step up! If someone agrees to assume these feeding duties, they should commit in writing that all members of their colony be spayed or neutered and microchipped as soon as possible, arrange for any necessary veterinary services, as well as have any new additions spayed/neutered.

Relocating feral cat colonies requires confining them in an environment which is safe and suitable, such as sheds, barns, basements or escape-proof shelters. Enclosures should provide shelter from wind and rain as well as direct sunlight and should remain secure for three weeks to allow time for adjustment; during this period of confinement they should receive canned food daily as well as access to ample drinking water sources.

Before moving a feral cat colony, people should verify that none of its mother cats are nursing kittens as newborn kittens cannot survive without mother cats’ milk. Signs that a nursing kitten exists include swollen breasts and less fur around nipples.

Taking Care of the Colony

Feral cats, whether stray or abandoned by their owners, have become adept at living outdoors and reproducing rapidly. Although often perceived as harmless by neighbors and pets alike, feral cat colonies may become nuisances to neighbors by damaging gardens and yards or spreading diseases and parasites to both pets and children. One effective strategy to address them is Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR), in which human caregivers manage the population through trapping, spaying/neutering/vaccinating and returning tame kittens back into the colony.

Caring for a colony may be both time- and money-intensive, yet extremely satisfying. Not only can caretakers reap emotional benefits; many also find financial savings through reduced grocery bills and pest control measures. When caring for multiple colonies at once, colony caretakers keep a journal to record important details such as cat numbers, physical descriptions, gender identity, vaccination statuses and any past injuries or illnesses which occur – this information helps ensure their cats’ overall wellbeing and ensure good health outcomes for each cat in their colony.

If you are moving, arrange for a friend or neighbor to assume responsibility for caring for your colony. As long as they’re comfortable with having new feral cats around, they can assist with food and supplies if needed. Be sure they understand this is a long-term commitment! Additionally, remove all food sources at the old location to discourage new feral cat colonies from forming there.

Semi-feral cats should typically remain in their environments unless they live with humans and have become socialized enough to be adopted or moved indoors. Otherwise, they require feeding and sheltering from harsh elements; you can help if there’s a colony of cats in your backyard by placing out a feeding station that’s visible from the street and placing it somewhere protected from weather; be sure to add water for their use if applicable and be especially sure to offer food throughout wintertime!

If you’re taking an extended trip, ask a trusted friend or neighbor to check in on the colony and provide food as needed. Additionally, this individual should have some familiarity with TNR as well as a plan in place for taking over your feeding and caregiving duties during their absence.

Leaving the Colony

Caretaking of feral cats requires long-term commitment, so if you need to move or are no longer available to care for the colony it is crucial that there are backup caregivers who can step in. If you know you will be leaving an area behind you can arrange with another neighborhood or support group in Trap-Neuter-Return for them to manage the cats in your place; this will ensure their wellbeing is not put at risk while you’re gone.

Relocating feral cats should only ever be done when absolutely necessary. Returning them to their original territory, no matter how run-down or undesirable it might seem, is always the safer and best solution. Feral cats become very attached to their environment upon being born there; they know every inch and cranny, have favorite spots they prefer hiding out in, and often establish territories. Relocating these felines may prove highly stressful or impossible altogether for all parties involved.

However, when moving a cat it is vitally important that proper steps be taken for its relocation. These include trapping, vaccinations and confinement at its new home for three weeks prior to dispersion. In order to avoid new cats settling in at its old spot it would also be wise to remove all food sources at its old spot to discourage potential newcomers.

As part of their relocation, cats need a peaceful place that’s far away from people and other animals – ideally an outdoor shed or barn where you can oversee them, although garage or enclosed porch spaces might work just as well if space allows. A shelter should also be set aside just in case it snows or rains – feral cats don’t do well in wet weather due to thick fur which doesn’t offer as much protection.

As part of any move, it is also vital that cats do not nurse kittens at the time of moving them. Kittens less than six to eight weeks old cannot survive without their mother’s breast milk and it is important to look out for telltale signs such as swollen breasts or no fur around the nipples; should you bring along an individual feral kitten it is vitally important that it returns quickly back home should its mother become unresponsive or separated from it.

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