Help! I found a cat colony
Updated: Aug 1, 2021
What is a cat colony?
A cat colony is a group of cats living together outside at a particular location. A cat colony can be anywhere from a small handful of cats, to a large group of more than 50+. These cats will develop the skills they need to survive on their own, generally unassisted by people.
These colonies usually form in areas where people have abandoned undesexed cats who have then gathered to find food, shelter and breed. These colonies can also be formed from an abandoned litter of kittens, or singular kitten who will then entice neighbouring male cats to mate. Cat colonies can grow in size rapidly as a female cat's pregnancy gestation period is roughly 2 months, making it possible for her to birth as many as five litters per year.
Areas with sufficient food sources, availability of safe places to hide and secure places to rear young can support larger cat colonies than others. Within these colonies, bonds between some cats can be close with collective rearing of young often occurring. Related females and their offspring generally form the core of a colony with one or more older males being interconnected. Some of these males however may not mate exclusively with the females of a particular colony and will float between others.
How can I identify if a cat is pregnant?
Darkened and enlarged nipples are often a giveaway that a cat is pregnant. This generally occurs as the cat's body prepares to make milk for its young. Another indicator is a swollen abdomen and an increase in appetite. Towards the end of the pregnancy, pregnant cats will also display signs of nesting. If you suspect a cat within a colony is pregnant- intervention is absolutely essential so that the colony does not rapidly increase in numbers resulting in more homeless cats competing for already scarce resources.
What do I do if I find a cat colony?
First find out whether the colony has a caretaker. Caretakers are people who bring food and water regularly and monitor the health of colony members. These caretakers are usually concerned cat lovers. If the colony has a caretaker, it is important to establish whether they work with a rescue group. If not, please contact a rescue group immediately so that a 'plan of action' can be put in place for the colony. Cats taken in by foster care-based rescue groups are placed into a foster care system for rehabilitation and veterinarian care - AND- more importantly to be desexed! This helps stop the breeding cycle and helps reduce the amount of homeless kitties currently on the streets.