The great feral debate.

Hello! I quickly wanted to say thank you for all the feedback about my last post. It was slightly controversial and I appreciated everyone’s opinions and feedback. For the most part, everyone’s comments were respectful and totally well said. I love being able to start a discussion and shirt the narrative a bit. I don’t claim to know everything (unless you’re my husband, in which case, duh I’m always right). So, I thought, hey what’s one more controversial blog topic?! That’s right, who here knows why feral cats are such a hotly debated aspect of the rescue community? Let’s chat.

A little history lesson

I know you didn’t expect Rescue in Style to provide chemistry and history lessons… but here we are. I’ve written about feral cats before but basically feral refers to cats that are unsocialized and fearful of people. Cats have been living outdoors for more than 10,000 years.  It was only about 70 years ago that cats ever started living indoors. Since then, we’ve been (slowly) starting to control the population by introducing spay/neuter programs for all cats.

Groups against feral cats

Feral cats do indeed live hard lives. They have to deal with predators, foraging for food, diseases, cars, and lack of veterinary care. It’s certainly not an easy life which is why groups like PETA believe that feral cats should be euthanized. PETA states, “A painless injection (euthanasia) is far kinder than any fate that feral cats will meet if they are left to survive on their own.”

Other groups that support this view are the American Bird Conservancy and the Wildlife Society. Whereas PETA believes in euthanizing for ethical reasons, these two groups argue that feral cats disrupt the ecosystem. Both believe feral cats do more harm by killing birds, rodents, and small mammals, than good. 

Groups for feral cats

Majority of animal welfare organizations believe in the Trap, Neuter, and Release (TNR) of feral cats. These include ASPCA, Humane Society of the US, Alley Cat Allies, Best Friends Animal Society, and pretty much every rescue here in Chicago. They argue that feral cats need to be vaccinated and neutered in order to maintain a healthy feral cat population.

The main point they argue is that feral cats go on to live happy and healthy lives. Individuals sign up to take care of cats that have been TNR’d, these are called cat colonies. People will feed outdoor cats and set up shelters for them during the cold months. Many organizations feel that TNR is a much more humane and effective way of controlling overpopulation and saving as many lives as possible.

My two cents 

Of course, no post is complete without my unsolicited opinion so here it is. I am for TNR (shocker) and believe that feral cats are good for communities. We have two “working cats” aka ferals in our neighborhood. I see them from time to time and tell them how thankful I am for controlling the rat population.

And in regards to PETA, everyone and everything is going to suffer because life is like, hard. Any wild animal faces challenges so where does the line stop? Should we start killing every and any animal? I mean, one could even argue that each one of us will eventually die of disease, infection, or an accident. We are also the biggest threat to every other species. Should we start euthanizing ourselves? The answer, in my humble opinion, is no.

In a perfect world, we would be able to adopt out every feral cat, but lol, have you met a feral cat? They would suffer greatly if they were brought inside, and they’d probably leave you with a few battle scars.

How you can help

If you want to support local TNR efforts, find a local organization working with community cats. Autumn of Castle Black Paw is out in the South Shore neighborhood of Chicago three days a week feeding and trapping cats. She pays for everything out of pocket and I’ve never seen someone so happy to be wandering allyes in Chicago. Autumn has a medical card which allows her to spay/neuter cats for free at PAWS Chicago. Beyond that, she pays for all the food, gas, traps, etc. on her own.

Autumn’s Amazon wishlist can be found here. Autumn is also looking for people who can foster or help cats recover from spay/neuters. You can contact Autumn at


White Sox – This guy is as friendly as they come. He is looking for a foster home because we would love to get him off the streets. Yes! Some ferals are friendly and in those cases, we want to get them off the streets! If you are able to foster or help, please contact Autumn.




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3 thoughts on “The great feral debate.”

  1. Great post Christine! I’m with you on this topic and completely blown away to learn about PETAs stance on feral cats. Well, to be honest, not entirely blown away because PETA tends to lean towards the extreme more times than not. Nonetheless, thank you for sharing this info. Keep up the great work!

    1. Thanks Kim! I agree, I had heard rumblings of this and when I looked into it, I was shocked. Doesn’t seem super live-cherishing to me! Thanks for reading!!

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