Frequently Asked Questions
FAQs About FCCO
What is the Feral Cat
Coalition of Oregon (FCCO)?
What cats qualify for your
part of the Humane Society?
How is this program
ever need volunteers?
Do you round up feral cats and
Does FCCO trap cats for
FAQs About Our Services
What services do the cats
What is an
feeding a stray or feral cat. How can I get him neutered?
There is a cat(s) living on
my property and I want them removed. Can you help?
There is a stray/feral cat
living in my neighborhood. Will you come get him/her?
My aunt lives on a farm
overrun with cats. What can you do to help us?
FAQs About Feral Cats
What is a feral cat?
What is a stray cat?
What is a free-roaming
What does spay
and neuter mean?
What is Trap-Neuter-Return
Who is a
a humane trap?
is a feral cat colony?
At what age can a cat begin
What is the earliest age I
can spay or neuter a kitten?
What is the gestation period
pregnant cat be spayed?
How soon do cats go back in
heat after they have a litter of kittens?
If I trap a lactating cat,
what should I do?
Is it better to let kittens
remain with their mother until they are weaned or should they be taken
sooner and bottle-fed and socialized as soon as possible?
At what age would you
consider it to be too late to domesticate a wild kitten?
How do I earn the trust of a
feral cat or tame a wild cat/kitten?
How do you tell if a cat is
truly feral or just a scared abandoned cat?
Why should I get involved
with feeding and spaying feral cats when I cannot commit to feeding beyond
a few months?
the caregiver stops feeding, won't the cats just go away?
Why not just trap and kill
often do I need to feed the cats?
Are there sources of cheap
What are good
ways to find people to help with feeding without endangering the
What is a
good way to feed feral cats so that other birds or animals do not get at
How can I
approach a business to get permission to trap-neuter-return (TNR) the
How do I
prevent people from dumping their cats near my colony?
If only one cat remains from
the colony, is it better to leave her or relocate the cat?
The Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon is a
mobile trap-neuter-return (TNR) program for feral and stray cats. The
program's services are targeted for feral cats who have caregivers feeding
them. The caregivers trap the cats, bring them to a clinic, and return the
cats to where they are being fed with a commitment to feed the cat(s) on a
permanent basis. We currently hold clinics in seven cities in Oregon and
SW Washington. The goal of the program is to reduce suffering for existing
feral cats and prevent the births and suffering of future generations.
FCCO is the first statewide mobile spay/neuter program exclusively caring
for feral cats in North America and one of the strongest feral cat
programs in the country. Founded in 1995, FCCO will spay/neuter 6,000 cats
this year and has altered over 50,000 cats since our inception.
FCCO services are available for feral cats,
barn cats and stray cats who are being fed consistently by a caregiver.
Our services are not for tame cats living as part of a family.
No. FCCO is a separate organization, not
associated with any other organizations or programs.
FCCO is a 501c3, not-for-profit
organization supported solely through donations from individuals,
foundations and corporations. We do not receive any public funding. Please
consider making a
Yes! FCCO is a volunteer-based
organization. We rely on volunteers to help plan our clinics, work at the
clinics, help with fundraising and other administrative tasks. For more
information on how to volunteer click here
No. The cats that receive our services have
caregivers feeding them. The caregiver contacts FCCO, is screened to
ensure the cat is truly feral or stray and not a domestic housecat, that
the cat is welcome where s/he is currently being fed, and the caregiver
will continue to feed the cat for the rest of the cat's life. Each
caregiver also signs a release form certifying they meet our criteria.
With this information confirmed, the cat is then given a reservation for a
FCCO does not have the resources to trap
cats for caregivers. We have live traps available in the cities we serve,
we lend guidance over the phone and have trapping instructions on our web
site. We are sometimes able to help trap cats for the elderly, disabled,
or those with large colonies. FCCO traps are not used for trapping and
removing unwanted stray or feral cats.
FCCO's 24-foot mobile hospital, designed
specifically for spaying/neutering feral cats, has three separate rooms: a
surgery suite with room for three veterinarians to operate simultaneously;
a prep area, and an anesthesia room. The free-standing clinic in Portland also has a separate prep area and anesthesia room, with a surgery suite for four veterinarians. In addition to being spayed or
neutered, each cat receives: FVRCP (distemper) and rabies vaccines, flea
treatment and is flea combed, Ear cleaning and ear mite treatment if
necessary, fluids if dehydrated, treatment for minor medical conditions if
present, his or her right ear tipped for future identification. Cats who
appear to be suffering, as determined by a veterinarian, are tested for
feline leukemia (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). Any cat testing
positive is euthanized.
All cats who
go through FCCO have the tip of their right ear removed (see photo
). This is
done while under anesthesia by a veterinarian or certified technician. It
is the international symbol of a feral cat that has been spayed or
neutered. This procedure prevents a second anesthesia and allows the
caregivers to keep track of the cats in their care.
Please call the clinic number for the city
nearest you. The phone numbers are listed beside each clinic on our
found on this website. You may also call our main phone line at
503-797-2606 to get information about alternative free or low cost
spay/neuter programs in the state.
The FCCO does not trap
and remove cats and our traps are not used for this purpose. If you are
not willing to feed and provide shelter for the cat(s), then you can hire
a company to trap and remove the cat(s). There is a fee associated with
this service. If the cat(s) is feral, s/he will be euthanized when taken
to the local shelter.
The FCCO does not trap
and remove cats. We recommend you contact your neighbors and post signs in
your neighborhood to see if the cat has a home. If no home is located you
may consider taking the cat to a local animal shelter, placing the cat on
your own, or taking responsibility for the cat.
We need to hear directly from the
caregiver. If your aunt is willing to feed and provide shelter for the
cats, then she can call the FCCO main number to get screened for our
clinics. Her cats can go through our clinics, thus preventing future
A feral cat
is an untamed cat. Some may refer to the cat as wild. The cat was either
abandoned and has reverted to a more wild state, or the cat was born
outdoors to a feral or stray mother and has had little or no human
contact. Feral cats are frightened of people and avoid contact whenever
possible. Feral kittens can be tamed, but usually adult feral cats are not
able to be socialized.
A stray cat
is a cat who has strayed from home--often in search of a mate--and become
lost, or was abandoned. Stray cats may be friendly or may have become wary
of people. Their offspring may be feral. Because they have had human
contact, they are less frightened of people than feral cats and can
usually be socialized and adopted into a home.
free-roaming cat is any cat that is not confined in a house or other type
of enclosure. This includes house cats, strays and ferals.
They are the terms used for sterilizing cats.
Female cats are spayed by removing their reproductive organs. Male cats
are neutered or castrated. Both surgeries require general anesthetic and
are performed by a veterinarian.
Trap-neuter-return is a humane approach to
ending feral cat overpopulation. Caregivers who are feeding feral cats,
trap them in humane live traps, take the cats to be spayed/neutered and
vaccinated, and after they are recovered, they return the cats to where
they are fed. Adoptable cats or kittens are removed and adopted into new
homes whenever possible.
is person who has taken responsibility for a feral cat or colony of cats.
The caregiver is committed to feeding the cats on a permanent basis,
ensures they are spayed/neutered, may provide additional shelter and
provides ongoing healthcare as needed.
live traps do not cause any pain to the animal being trapped. The traps
are metal wire boxes with a trip plate inside. When a cat enters the trap
and steps on the plate, the wire door close behind the cat trapping
congregating together are called a colony. They typically form around a
food source, or begin as offspring of a feral female.
Kittens can have kittens. A cat can have
kittens at as young as 5 months of age.
Kittens can be spayed or neutered as young
as 8-10 weeks of age if they weigh more than 2 pounds and are healthy.
The average length of pregnancy is just 62
Immediately after giving birth. Cats can
become pregnant while nursing kittens.
If a lactating cat is trapped, there are two
choices: release the cat and try to retrap her in 4-6 weeks, or have her
spayed and then returned the same day if possible. Although a nursing
female cat can be spayed and will continue to feed her kittens after
surgery, it is a good idea to have kitten replacement milk on hand and be
ready to bottle-feed the kittens for a couple of days. This way you can
also feed the kittens while the mom cat is away the day of surgery if
needed. If possible, wait until the kittens are at least 4 weeks old
before taking mom in to be spayed. At 4 weeks, the kittens can probably
survive 12-15 hours without her. It is very important to get the mother
cat back to her kittens as quickly as you can.
Optimally, you want
to catch the mother cat and her kittens. Kittens benefit from their
mother's milk and attention. Keep them together in a confined area with a
box or other shelter inside this area where the mom cat can hide (if she
is feral). The kittens will come out to see you and the mom cat will hide
in the box/carrier. Handle the kittens daily, work on socializing them,
and then put them back with mom. If you have them confined and you can't
touch the kittens because the mother cat is protecting them, then remove
the kittens from her at 5-6 weeks of age and begin socializing
The sooner the kittens
have human contact, the easier it will be to tame them. If the kittens are
living outdoors and haven't had any human contact, trap the kittens no
later than 8-10 weeks of age to socialize them. Kittens up to 8 weeks of
age can take 2-4 weeks to tame. Kittens older than this will take longer.
After 12 weeks, some kittens will not fully socialize to people.
There are several approaches to taming a cat or kitten, and they depend on the individual cat. Also, there are degrees to which a cat may be feral. Factors involved in determining this include the following: Age - Kittens up to 6-7 weeks of age are most easily tamed/socialized. With each passing week, socialization becomes more difficult. Number of generations feral - The degree to which a cat is feral grows with each succeeding generation. An abandoned housecat will be less feral than her offspring. Amount of human contact - The more contact a cat has with humans, the less feral she will be. Cats living in secluded or remote areas are more feral than those living near areas with a high level of human activity. Personality - Some cats are friendlier than others, even when they are feral. It is not unusual for cats to become friendlier toward their caregiver after being spayed or neutered. Patience and understanding are the key traits the person taming a cat will need. It can take weeks to years to socialize a cat, and some cats may never become tame.
For feral cats, often the most compassionate choice is to allow the cat to live in her own territory where food and shelter are provided. Of course, the cat must be spayed or neutered. To gain the trust of a feral cat you are feeding, slow movement, a soft voice and a regular feeding schedule will start the process of gaining the cat's trust. Move at the cat's pace. Don't rush to try to touch the cat. If he wants to be petted, he will let you know when he is ready for this step or more. Never try to grab the cat, or you will risk injury and any earned trust. To tame a feral cat or kitten, you need to trap the cat, bring him indoors and keep him in a confined area like a bathroom or kennel. Don't let the cat run loose or he will find a place to hide, and it is difficult to get him to come back out. Food is a strong motivator. Always have dry food and water available. When you want to work with the cats, bring wet food or chicken/turkey baby food. Offer it on a spoon or, if you aren't at risk of being bitten, you might consider hand-feeding the cat. These are just starting tips.
Visit the resource listing on the Alley Cat Allies web site at www.alleycat.org
, or visit www.oasisdelosgatos.org/book.htm
for more information on taming feral cats.
There is no one way to
identify a stray cat from a feral cat. If a lone cat appears in your
colony, there is a good chance he or she is a stray cat. Watch the cat's
behavior. Stray cats tend to be more vocal, are more willing to eat in
front of you right away, and will seek affection sooner than a feral cat.
In some cases you may not know for sure until you have trapped the cat and
he has had a few days to settle down.
In short, because the cats need your help.
No cat asks to be homeless. Feral cats face many challenges, and you can
improve their lives by feeding them and getting them spayed or neutered.
Often people start feeding cats from the best intentions, but the
consequences of feeding without neutering quickly result in a population
explosion. That is why it is so very important to get the cats
spayed/neutered as soon as possible. If you can only commit to feeding for
a short time, ask your neighbors, coworkers, or others if they can help.
You will be surprised to learn how many people care about feral cats.
Please remember, if you are going to feed feral cats, you must get the
It is a common assumption that if you stop or
don't feed the cats, they will go away. Unless there is another food
source nearby, they won't leave the area. Instead they tend to come closer
as they grow increasingly desperate to find something to eat. Even though
cats may be feral, all cats are still domesticated creatures who rely on
humans for food. Without our help, they suffer unnecessarily. A cat can go
without food for several weeks and continue to reproduce. Trying to starve
out cats results only in hungry, unhealthy animals vulnerable to disease
and severe parasitic infestations, such as fleas. Also keep in mind that
nothing is harder than trying to stop people from feeding cats once they
know there are cats in need. People will risk their jobs, their apartments
and even bodily harm to prevent the animals from starving. Attempts to
make feral cats go away by banning feeding usually result in suffering for
the cats and increased conflict with feeders, but little else.
There are many reasons: TNR is the
compassionate approach/solution. TNR teaches compassion and responsible
cat care. While TNR actually reduces the number of cats breeding,
education about the importance of spaying and neutering reaches out to the
entire community. Trapping and killing teaches young and old that it is
okay to create unwanted offspring and then kill the surplus leaving no
room for education or compassion for life. Trapping and killing does not
solve the problem. Trapping and killing has been practiced for many years
(as the only option available) and it hasn't work. For all the years this
approach was practiced, the cat population continued to explode. New cats
replace those cats removed. When cats are trapped and removed from an
area, new cats move in to take advantage of the food source. Alley Cat
Allies, a national feral cat network, calls this phenomenon the vacuum
Trapping and killing cats is actually more expensive than TNR and a taxpayer
burden. It costs on average of $100 for an animal control agency to trap,
house, kill, and dispose of one cat. It costs programs like ours an
average of $30 to spay or neuter one cat.
Caregivers will not allow it.
Thousands of kind people feed and care for feral and stray cats. Most will
not allow the cats they feed to be trapped and killed, but welcome the
opportunity to have the cats trapped, neutered and returned. If their only
choice is to have the cats killed, they will opt to do nothing and the
cats will breed adding to the overpopulation problem. Society does not
support trapping and killing. When communities have tried to implement
mass trapping and killing efforts, the community outcry has stopped the
TNR Works. Information on how well TNR works is beginning to
accumulate. The practice of TNR has repeatedly shown to reduce feral cat
populations. Leading animal organizations have become more proactive in
advocating for TNR, including The Humane Society of the United States and
the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).For
more information and specific examples visit the Alley Cat Allies web site
Optimally the cats will be fed daily. If you
are not able to commit to this, consider finding someone to fill in the
days you are not available. If this isn't possible or practical, you can
also consider an automatic dry food dispenser and water bowl. Be sure to
put these items in a sheltered feeding station large enough to accommodate
Some food banks carry cat food. It is good to
check with the one in your area to see if they have food and how often it
is available. Local animal shelters or other nonprofits may also have food
available, and we encourage you to check around to see what is offered in
your area. Affordable food can be found at major pet stores, grocery
stores or warehouse stores like Costco. People feed feral cats a wide
range of food. We recommend feeding the best food you can afford. Feeding
the cats is the important thing, and of course, spaying and
People who feed feral
cats are often quiet about their work. They fear for the safety of their
colony. At times, everyone needs a break or will be out of town and needs
help feeding the cats. Talk to your friends and others you trust. Invite
them to join you when you feed so they can see what you do and how you do
it. If there is a feral cat program in your area, volunteer with them and
get to know others who care about feral cats and who you can trust. You
can also talk with your veterinarian and see if he or she knows of other
caregivers in your area.
recommended that caregivers feed cats on a daily schedule and remove the
food after a short time. This approach helps in trapping the cats for
surgery and is also helpful for knowing the number of cats you are
feeding, their health, and will make it easier should you need to trap any
of the cats in the future. Feeding on a schedule is also an important way
to keep other animals or pests away from the food. A covered feeding
station may keep birds away from the food, while feeding during daylight
will prevent nocturnal animals such as raccoons away.
cats vary. Sometimes people are hostile; often they are frustrated and
unhappy about the cats. Listen, try to understand and sympathize. Try to
put yourself in their shoes so you can find common ground and move forward
to help the cats. The first thing to do is to learn all you can about
feral cats and proper care and feeding. With this knowledge you can help
shape attitudes in a favorable way. Talk to people and gather as much
insight as you can about the prevailing attitude about the cats at the
specific location. Share the message that you want to help so that there
are no more kittens, no more noise, and no more odor. Direct people to
resources to find out more about TNR. Don't give up easily if people in
authority won't agree with TNR. You might be able to get some official
person from a feral cat program or animal welfare organization to speak to
management. Keep the lines of communication open even if you don't get
anywhere. If they pursue other methods to resolve the cat situation, they
will likely not succeed and will then be more open to TNR. You want to
have a good relationship with them, should this occur.
In most cases, colony locations are not
made known to others. In some high-profile locations, it is hard to
impossible for the colony to remain out of sight, and some people might
see this as a possible location to dump their animal. One way to prevent
this is to post friendly signs letting people know that the cats are a
colony that has a dedicated caregiver, and that all the cats have been
through a TNR program. It is a good opportunity to teach people about
responsible cat care and perhaps even recruit caregivers to
The best thing for
a cat is to stay in his or her territory. The cat is familiar with this
area and where to find shelter and food. Relocating a cat is difficult and
often unsuccessful. The cat may become friendlier toward the caregiver,
which could lead to placing the cat in a home one day.