Many South Floridians share their lives with so-called community cats. Such cats are not members of any one particular household, but roam outdoors, sticking to familiar neighborhoods and feeding stations. They vary in temperament from truly feral cats who live like wild animals, to friendly strays who were likely abandoned by their owners. While many of us do not mind providing food and water for these special souls, there are a few essentials to keep in mind.
Cats can begin reproducing as early as five months of age. They often become pregnant with their next litter while still nursing a current litter! It is therefore crucial to make sure all community cats are spayed or neutered. Miami-Dade Animal Services performs these procedures free of charge, so schedule the surgery before your visitor becomes a village!http://www.miamidade.gov/animals/trap-neuter-return.asp If you share your home with indoor cats, place the community cat’s food and water bowls as far away from the house as possible. Your indoor kitty may perceive the newcomer as a threat, and resort to undesirable behaviors such as urinating outside the litter box to mark his or her territory. While community cats are happy to create their own outdoor restrooms, many will use a litter box. Not all of our neighbors appreciate community cats, especially if their yards are routinely fouled by our feline friends. This simple addition can go a long way towards keeping the peace, and ensuring community cats have as little negative impact as possible.
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