Feral Cats

All feral cats pictured on this page reside on the East Carolina University campus

There are approximately 60 million feral cats in the United States. Feral cats are considered to be untamed or unsocialized, are elusive and do not trust humans. They may have been abandoned, or born to abandoned cats. Feral colonies can be found behind shopping areas or businesses, in alleys, parks, abandoned buildings, and rural areas. These cats, in their struggle to survive, are often seen as “problem” animals, to be “gotten rid of”. As a result, they rarely have the recognition and protection in a community that pets have. That’s where TNR comes in. TNR stands for Trap, Neuter and Return.

Saving Graces 4 Felines is an organization that offers TNR in the Pitt County area. Thanks to area veterinarians and volunteers, we help people that are feeding feral cats put a stop to endless numbers of kittens being born every year in their colonies.

As some of you may well know, an act of kindness that begins with feeding one or two strays can turn into 20 cats within a few short months. Our main goal is to improve the lives of feral cats by implementing such a program. We provide a spay/neuter appointment, as well as a rabies vaccine, for unowned feral cats that are compassionately accepted where they are and have a caretaker to look after them and provide food and water. We provide humane traps for initial trapping and recovery of cats after surgery and provide instructions on humanely trapping and caring for feral cats.

Nationally, organizations involved in feral cat care report that feral cat colonies maintained under such a program, stabilize in numbers, protect their territories and don’t attract additional animals. The success cannot be measured over night. It may take years. There are also significantly fewer or no problems with fighting and spraying. What about simply removing the cats? Feral cats tend to find areas where food is available such as around dumpsters. So other unaltered cats will likely move in and reproduce, starting the cycle again. This is known as the “vacuum effect”.

To some, the mere mention of kitten season brings up images of adorable fluffy kittens playing, jumping and wrestling. To animal shelter workers everywhere it has an entirely different meaning. Kitten season is the beginning of a nightmare; countless numbers of kittens coming through their front doors with not enough homes. It means mass euthanasia with no end in sight, until December, when there might be a two-month reprieve from the onslaught.

Cats are very prolific creatures. In our part of the country a cat can have at least 3 litters a year with an average of 4-5 kittens. Multiply that by the number of strays, ferals and cats with irresponsible owners and you have an astounding number. Unfortunately, media resources like this do not help to educate irresponsible pet owners as most will never visit this website. As a result, it is up to us to spread the word on the importance of spaying and neutering. So speak out, let them know. Do not allow pet owners to remain uninformed.

Kittens are cute, but killing kittens because there are too many is not. It’s sad that springtime, a season for new beginnings, is the beginning of the end for millions of unwanted animals that should have never been born.

What is Saving Graces 4 Felines?

Saving Graces 4 Felines is a non-profit, all volunteer organization, with one of our main goals is to reduce the overpopulation of feral cats in Pitt County and the surrounding community by working with committed caretakers through a trap/spay-neuter/vaccination and return program. Essentially we are helping these cats to live happier and healthier lives. Saving Graces 4 Felines was formed in January 2002, and in their first year altered over 700 cats, preventing 3,100 unwanted cat births. In subsequent years, Saving Graces 4 Felines has facilitated in spaying and neutering hundreds of feral cats.

What is a feral cat? What is a stray cat?

Feral cats are the “wild” offspring of domestic cats and are primarily the result of pet owners’ abandonment or failure to spay/neuter their cats, allowing them to breed uncontrolled. Many of these kittens will never have contact with humans and will eventually become fearful of them. These feral cats band together to become colonies. While both cats are homeless, strays are friendly, able to be touched, and will usually adapt to becoming part of the household. Feral cats, on the other hand, are fearful of humans, cannot be touched, and in general do not make good pets. These are the cats that run and hide when approached. There are of course some exceptions to this; feral cats that are fed regularly by the same person may eventually come to trust that person enough that they will rub up against them, and will occasionally allow being touched. Some cats, especially if they experience positive human interaction at a young age, will become socialized early in life, they are usually not suitable as pets (again, there are some exceptions), as they tend to be very shy and only learn to trust one person. Many of these cats are content where they are, provided they have food and water available to them. Don’t believe that feral cats would rather be in your home. They would not. There are plenty of friendly cats awaiting adoption at our shelter. Feral cats are survivors. All they need is someone to help.

What is a TNR (also known as TVAR? or Trap/Vaccinate/Alter/Return) Program?

TNR is Trap/Neuter/Return. This type of program began in the late 1970’s in Great Britain as a humane way of dealing with feral cats. Cats that have a caretaker looking after them are trapped, spayed or neutered, vaccinated and returned to their colonies. Saving Graces 4 Felines refers caretakers of feral cats to Spay Today, a low cost spay/neuter clinic, for surgery, Rabies vaccination, and treatment of ear mites when needed.

What are the requirements for acceptance?

Our criteria for acceptance of colonies for this program requires that they are feral, have food and water provided to them on a daily basis, and are compassionately accepted where they are. Cats that are in an unsafe environment will be relocated only if the danger is extreme and there is a location to relocate them. Socialization in the new area may take several weeks and a lot of time, so this is done only in extreme cases.

Where is the clinic?

Spay Today
County Home Road
Greenville, NC

Located across the parking lot from the Pitt County Animal Shelter. Open Monday through Thursday. No appointment required for feral cats.

Operation Catnip
NCSU Veterinary School
Raleigh, NC
Operates a monthly clinic by invitation.

What does Saving Graces 4 Felines not do?

We do not remove cats from unwanted locations.
We do not loan traps for cats to be euthanized or taken to animal shelters (just because feral cats are not adoptable).
We do not relocate cats (unless releasing the cat to her original colony puts her in danger).
We do not spay or neuter peoples pets.

I am feeding a feral cat colony in town-How do I get help?

All requests for assistance must go though the message center number (252) 355-3404 or our email address savinggraces4@aol.com.

We do not have an office. Messages are checked daily Monday-Friday by a VOLUNTEER. As we are NOT an emergency response organization, your request may not be answered the same day.

Due to a shortage of volunteers to assist with trapping, Saving Graces 4 Felines will ask you to trap the cats and take them to Spay Today. If you wish to borrow a trap from the organization, a trap or traps will be loaned to you with the required refundable deposit of $50.00 per trap. When the trap is returned, the deposit will be refunded.

You will need to trap your cats the night before you plan to take them to the clinic (humane trapping instructions) and transport them to Spay Today no later than 8:30 am. They will be in a recovery trap (which SHOULD NOT be opened under any circumstances) and you will be given instructions for post-operative care. All cats are to remain in their traps overnight in a warm dry area and returned to their colony the following morning. While under anesthesia, the left ear is slightly tipped for identification purposes.

What is the cost of the program?

Spay Today charges $35 per feral cat which will include the cost of the Rabies vaccination. Other services, such as testing for Feline Leukemia and FIV, require additional charges. If finances are an obstacle, you will need to call Saving Graces 4 Felines to discuss receiving approval for financial assistance. Decisions are made on a case by case basis. Approval should be obtained prior to trapping and taking cats to Spay Today.

How can you help Saving Graces 4 Felines?

You can show your support in a variety of ways through sponsorship of feral cat spay/neuter with a donation of $35 or more, assisting with TNR, assisting with PetsMart adoptions, cleaning and caring for the rescued domesticated cats at SG4F, or by fostering a cat and/or kittens in your home. The needs are many and great and the rewards are also. Call 252-355-3404 for more information.