Feral cats are domestic cats, just like pet cats and stray cats. However, feral cats differ from pet or stray cats in that they are not socialized to people. Hissing and growling are defense mechanisms that a feral cat will exhibit when approached by humans.
The East Bay SPCA will spay/neuter feral cats for a $30.00 fee/cat at one of our spay/neuter centers(by appointment only). This fee also includes a rabies and FVRCP vaccine, and an ear notch. See below for more information about if a cat qualifies for our low-cost feral cat spay/neuter.
Other Resources if You Find Feral Cats
Many organizations are dedicated solely to reducing the feral cat population, and improving the lives of existing feral cats. Below is a list of resources that link out to these organizations.
Qualifying For Feral Cat Spay/Neuter
The following information is provided to help you determine if a cat is eligible for the East Bay SPCA’s Feral Cat Spay/Neuter, which provides spay/neuter surgery for feral cats for $30.00 per cat.
Is the Cat Feral?
- For our purposes, “feral” means a cat who lives in the wild and cannot be handled by people and must be trapped. The cat must come to the clinic in the trap. If the cat doesn’t have to be trapped, but can instead be picked up and placed in a carrier, it is not considered feral and is therefore ineligible for low-cost ($30.00) surgery. Please see our spay and neuter section for information on affordable surgery.
- If a cat has a collar, it is owned and will not be eligible.
Is the Cat Over Four-Months Old?
- Cats that are young enough to be tamed, can become adoptable. Therefore, if a cat under 4 months of age is found, then the spay or neuter surgery can be performed, but it must be at our regular rates. Please see our spay and neuter section for information on surgery for adoptable cats.
Other Eligibility Requirements:
- A sick cat cannot be spayed/neutered because of risks with the anesthesia. For a successful surgery, the cat must be visibly healthy the day of the operation.
- The cat’s ear cannot already be notched or tipped (see photos below). This may mean it has already been altered. If a cat comes in with what appears to be a notched or tipped ear, the veterinarian will verify if the ear has been notched or otherwise injured.
Note: all cats altered as a feral cat spay/neuter will have their right ear notched.
What if You’ve Trapped An Ineligible Cat
You might accidentally trap a friendly, social, yet homeless cat! If the cat is a stray cat that you can handle, you have a few options:
- You can surrender the cat to a municipal shelter. There are no guarantees, but if the cat is friendly, he/she is likely a good adoption candidate. The local animal control will accept all found animals in the city they serve, and they do not require any proof of ownership.
- Other shelters and rescue groups have different surrender criteria, so if there are other groups you’d like to try to work with to place the cat, please contact them directly. Many people are surprised to learn that all shelters do not have the same animal intake policies!