Reducing Feral Cats in Seattle Neighborhoods

Here Kitty, Kitty!


Have you noticed the cat napping under your bushes? Or maybe you’ve seen some adorable kittens behind the garage? If cats come to you and seem to want your attention, they’re likely a stray or lost pet. If they run away when you approach them, these cats may be part of a feral cat “colony” that lives in your neighborhood. Feral kittens may not run away, but their mother will move them when you’re not watching.

The Humane Society describes the difference between stray cats and feral cats: “A stray cat is a pet who has been lost or abandoned, is used to contact with people and is tame enough to be adopted. A feral cat is the offspring of stray or other feral cats and is not accustomed to human contact. Feral cats are usually too fearful to be handled or adopted.”

Feral care in Seattle

There are currently thousands of feral cats in the Seattle area, and with cat ownership growing in popularity in Seattle, this number could increase. For a small number of feral cats in Bothell, WA, their lives have been made safe, warm and not wanting for food in a comfortable shelter. Owner Nancy Howard started the Feral Care Sanctuary in 2000, which became a 501-C-3 in 2005. “We currently provide shelter to over 100 feral cats,” explained Nancy. “Many of these cats become comfortable with people over time, but for other reasons are not adoptable. We can really use volunteers to play with and give attention to these cats.”

Reduce feral cat numbers with TNR program

One of the most effective ways to reduce the feral cat population is to spay or neuter them. The Trap, Neuter and Return (TNR) program is a humane method of trapping, sterilizing and releasing the cats back into their neighborhoods. “Feral Care captures them and some are brought to us,” Nancy remarked. “Our goal is to never say no, but we must rely on donations to pay for their care and additional shelters to accept more cats.”

How you can help feral cats

If you see stray or feral cats in your neighborhood and want to help, you can contact the following organizations to ask about having the cats humanely trapped or to get a special trap so you can safely bring a cat to a spay/neuter facility in your area:

Nancy hopes people will become more aware of stray and feral cats in their neighborhood and help these animals live out their lives without reproducing. “Cats start mating in March, so it’s important to bring in cats now to spay and neuter as many as possible before mating season begins.”

For more information about the Feral Care Sanctuary, to make a donation or to volunteer, please visit

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