Feeding community cats is one of the most rewarding things we do as volunteers, but feeding is also a top source of contention with neighbors and residents who live near the colony.
Things to keep in mind:
1. IF YOU FEED CATS, YOU MUST FIX THEM! Failure to fix them is essentially "feeding the breeding". In Bonita Springs FL it is illegal to feed unfixed cats! Without fixing, you are creating conditions where cats will reproduce exponentially and you are putting the entire colony in danger. Reach out to local cat rescues and shelters in your county for help with TNR. We are here to help in Bonita Springs and we can direct you if you live elsewhere in SWFL.
2. FEED RESPONSIBLY!!. In addition to cats being fixed, feed at the same time each day to create predictability. This will help with trapping for TNR and also give you a chance to spend time observing the members of the colony for medical issues or to spot a newcomer without an ear tip. Trap and fix new cats as soon as they are coming regularly. Also, only feed what cats can eat in one sitting and pick up leftovers so that you don't attract raccoons and rodents. Always remove all trash and plates. Leave fresh water at all times discreetly placed under a bush if necessary. Remember: Cats are always blamed for debris and trash, even if it is not from them. So It is best to keep the area as litter free as possible, regardless of where it came from.
3. DO NOT FEED AFTER DARK! This will only attract raccoons and other pests. Do your best to have them fed before nightfall and all leftovers removed. When people see raccoons coming to eat, you can be sure that they will start complaining to local officials.
4. FEED WITH PERMISSION! Unless you are feeding on your own property, you must have permission from the property owner. If it is a business location, be totally cooperative with their requests as far as feeding times and where and how to feed. You are there to help the cats, but you must also respect property owner rights; BE A RESOURCE to a business owner
or neighbor who is kind enough to let you fix and feed cats on their premises.
5. KEEP IT LOW KEY! Remember that not everyone loves cats! Keep the area clean and clear of debris and unattended food. Try to feed at a time of day when foot and vehicle traffic is low so that cats are not easily noticed. This is for their safety and to avoid potential conflicts with people who might want them removed. Keeping all cats fixed also reduces their number, which reduces visibility and keeps them safer; and cats with ear tips are less likely to be the target of animal control.
Here are some practical tips from Alley Cat Allies: