Feral Cats and the Challenge of Managing Them in Rural Areas

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Feral cats live and hunt in the forest environment. Thus, it is quite understandable where their predator instincts and wild behavior stem from. These cats are not habituated to human touch or contact. Their survival is dependent on hunting and consuming other species around them.

These cats are not habituated to human touch or contact as well. Thus, encounters with any human being often result in aggressive behavior by feral cats. In many situations, they have also been the source of harrowing injuries. All of these factors point toward the immediate need for programs that can help manage feral cats’ population and behavior. The common precautionary methods include habitat modification, repellents, and trapping. However, these methods come with their own challenges.

So, this article will discuss these methods and the setbacks associated with them.

Different Ways of Managing Feral Cats and Challenges Faced in the Process

There are many steps taken by individuals and governments to manage the feral cat population and behavior. However, all these programs come with their own set of challenges and setbacks. Listed below are some feral cat management programs and the challenges that these can propose.

1. Habitat Modification

Habitat modification is one of the most effective ways to control the growth of feral cats in any region. As feral cats are wild cats, they prefer wildlife as their living environment. Making changes to this space can help drive the feral cat population away. This step involves reducing the availability of food, water, and shelter.

Sometimes feral cats also search for food inside garbage and other unsanitary conditions. This increases the risk of the spread of diseases and infections. In order to avoid any such threat, it is advisable that the lids of the garbage or trash cans and dumpsters should be secured tightly so that the feral cat has no source to break in. Getting rid of piles of boxes, equipment, etc., can bring shelter options for these cats.

Last but not least, feral cats feed on rodents. Thus, keeping a check on the rodent populations is a way of keeping a check on the feral cat population as well. Cleaning your surrounding regularly ensures that no unsanitary place is left for breeding rodents. This will directly result in the reduction of feral cats in the area.

However, not everyone is in support of this method. Cats are popular pets in most rural regions of the world. Many people in these rural regions are against the idea of making changes to the feral cat habitat. They believe that cats have the freedom to live unowned and in the wild. This opposition poses a great challenge in controlling and managing feral cats.

2. Repellents

Repellents have come out as a safer option for keeping feral cats away in rural areas. This is a method that gives way to living in harmony with the cats without having to harm them physically. People in rural areas scatter fragrant items around their homes that repel feral cats. In this way, they are able to ensure that these cats stay away from their property. These repellents have a combination of chemicals like anise oil, methyl nonyl ketone, thymol, and benzyl diethyl methyl ammonium saccharide (BMAS). BMAS is mostly applied to garbage cans or other places where feral cats usually make their rounds. These repellents can be used around gardens and flower beds.

However, in rural areas, the use of these repellants can vigorously harm agriculture and crop production. The application of BMAS on edible plants alters the taste of the crop and reduces its nutrient quality and quantity as well.

For such cases, it is better to go with organic repellents as they do not harm the growth of the plant. These include orange or lemon peels, coffee grounds, organic citrus-scented sprays, vinegar, pipe tobacco, oil of lavender, or eucalyptus. lemongrass, and citronella. Apart from sprays, ultrasonic repellents are also effective in driving away feral cats. You can purchase the Abilly Solar Ultrasonic Repellent for this purpose. This device uses ultrasound and strong flash repellent to keep feral cats away.

3. Trapping

Feral cats can also be removed from a specific area by trapping. However, it is important to ensure that this process is carried out by trained individuals or professionals. Amateurs can face the risk of getting hurt or severely injured, as feral cats are very aggressive toward humans.

While trapping is a very effective way of reducing the feral cat population, one should still not support the killing of any animal species. The trapping of these cats is often followed by taking them to the shelter, where they are euthanized. Thus, the method of trapping also comes as a challenge as it puts the feral cat’s life at risk.

This is where the importance of TNR, also known as trap, neuter, and release, is established. The neutering ensures that no further reproduction takes place. After this process, these cats have left in the wild once again. Thus, it is the safest and most humane way of controlling the feral cat population.


The management of feral cats is always accompanied by some challenges. However, the right and careful steps can help reduce the feral cat population while also promoting a harmonious environment.

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