Ventura County has a large population of owned and unowned cats who live partially or completely outdoors. These cats can loosely be described as “Community Cats” and range in temperament from domestic house cats to feral (or wild) cats. Over the years, Ventura County Animal Services has implemented a number of programs and forged beneficial partnerships in an effort to find appropriate placements for these cats. It is our responsibility as a community to know what is the best pathway forward for cats of all temperaments. We’ll begin with the typical house-cat and end with feral (or wild) cats, all while providing expert advice and guidance regarding the appropriate handling of these cats:
Domestic cats (a.k.a house-cats) are cats who can be handled and who likely have someone caring for them. These cats are typically found in homes but some have outdoor access or live completely outside. If you notice an outdoor cat who appears sick, injured, thin, or unkempt, please bring the cat to a veterinary facility. If you see outdoor cats who appear healthy and in good condition, they should remain in the area where they were thriving as they are likely being cared for by someone nearby. Most outdoor cats are owned by someone nearby and usually make their way home before nightfall. Domestic cats who are brought to an animal shelter, on average, only have a 5% chance of being reunited. Why is this number so low? Owners of outdoor-access cats are not as alarmed at the disappearance of their cat like they would for a missing dog. As a result, cat owner may only begin looking for their cat 4-5 days later, by which time they could have already been adopted out . Animals brought to VCAS are typically held for five (5) days to allow their families time to reclaim them.
Community cats are cats who can be described as outdoor, unowned or free-roaming. These cats can be friendly or feral, adult or kitten, healthy or sick, altered or unaltered. Community cats may or may not have a caregiver. If you see a community cat, do not immediately bring them to the shelter. 66% of cats who are reported as “missing” actually return home, on their own, if left undisturbed. If you see a community cat, observe them. If they appear sick, injured, thin, or unkempt, please bring them to VCAS for care if they cat be handled and placed into a carrier. If they cannot be handled, please see Feral cats below.
Feral cats (also known as wild cats) have had very little to no human contact. They tend to be fearful of people and survive outdoors alone or in packs. Feral cats are not likely to become domestic unless they are young enough to be domesticated by humans. Feral cats who appear sick, injured, thin, or unkempt, should be humanely trapped and brought to VCAS for care. Please do not attempt to trap cats (feral or otherwise) without learning the process. Doing so without this knowledge could place undo harm and stress upon cats. Please email the Community Cats Coalition servicing Ventura County at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in humane trapping.
Feral kittens are similar to feral cats. The main difference is that some of these kittens can be made to accept human touch over time and even seek affection. If successfully domesticated, these cats can be adopted out to the general public. Once kittens have reached a certain age, however, they generally cannot be domesticated. If you found kittens, please follow this guide to know when it is appropriate to move or remove kittens from their mom.