There’s a Cat in My Garden-What Do I Do?

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There’s a Cat in My Garden-What Do I Do?

Helping The Cat In Your Garden

Most cats by nature are inclined to roam the area surrounding their home. It can be tricky however to figure out whether it is a stray cat, a feral or is in fact an owned cat who loves to explore. So what should you do if you’ve found a cat in your garden?

Galway Cat Rescue

Galway Cat Rescue have partnered with Petmania Galway to help find local homes for cats in their care. They are an all-volunteer group of animal lovers that are committed to helping homeless cats in Galway, and dedicated to give every cat a chance to live a safe, healthy and happy life.

They operate using a network of fosterers who look after cats and kittens in their own homes. This provides the best possible opportunity for them to become well socialised in a normal domestic environment.

Galway Cat Rescue want cats to find a forever home in the shortest time-frame, and by adopting best practice adoption protocols and early age neuter/spay procedures, they can go to these homes directly from the invaluable socialising care a foster home provides.

For more on Galway Cat Rescue, visit their website here. 

Feral, Owned, or Stray?

Firstly, you need to determine if it is a stray, feral, or owned cat. If they seem well-groomed and look healthy, they may have an owner nearby. Provide food, water or some shelter if the cat requires it. Knowledge is key, so ask your neighbours if they recently adopted a new cat who may be exploring the area for the first time.

If the cat appears disorientated or stressed, he could be lost or a stray. Take a good photo and circulate it in the community and amongst rescues to check if it’s a lost cat. This is required by most rescues before they Trap/Neuter/Release (TNR) to ensure it’s not a local garden or pet cat they trap inadvertently. They may be frightened at first, but with some time, can be friendly. If there are no visible signs of ownership such as tags or collars, take the cat to your local veterinary clinic to be scanned for a microchip.

Feral cats will behave differently to a lost pet and won’t come close, even with some encouragement. They are generally silent will not meow at you or make themselves too obvious. They will withdraw temporarily to bushes or any safe sheltered place when you put food/water out, and will only approach the offering when you are a safe distance away.

Feral cats do not attack you unless you are cornering them, and they are more likely to run from any advances you make in their direction.

They often have a hiding spot away from populated areas too.

cat walking on a fence outside exploring a garden in front of red autumn leaves

What if the Cat in My Garden is Pregnant?

If you notice a feral cat in your garden who is pregnant, TNR is still possible in the early stages. Contact your local SPCA on how you can avail of TNR.

It is generally not an option for a rescue to take-in or kennel a feral cat until she has her litter, and this would be too stressful on the adult cat and could result in miscarriage or failure of the mother to care for her new-borns.

If possible, provide any care you can to the cat such as shelter or some food until she births the kittens. When the kittens are 6 weeks old, TNR can be carried out. Rehoming the kittens is also an option when they are ready to be separated from their mother—about 6 to 8 weeks old.

Can I Rehome a Feral Cat in My Garden?

Rehoming of feral cats is not the usual best practice, and TNR is the most welfare minded option in these circumstances. If rehoming is necessary due to safety issues or the threat of pest control (which can be the case at commercial premises) a relocation protocol is initiated by the rescue. This necessitates confinement of the cat/s in a shed or secure crated setup for 6 weeks to imprint the cats on the new location, and prevent them simply running away looking for their former territory.

The rescue will advise and assist to this end.

Dealing with Feral Cats

Cats have free roam under the law so if there are neighbourhood or community issues with regards to feral cats, then a community plan should be devised in a civil manner with all parties discussing the best practice options available to assist the cats and the community to a good solution. Fundraising within the community is also very helpful.

This should be done in association with an SPCA or local rescue who will provide the necessary printed material to explain the process of TNR and a cost/benefit analysis of same.

Interested in finding out more about cats and kittens, or helping a cat in need? Visit for everything you need to know about fostering, adopting and rescuing a cat or kitten.

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