By Sally from Richmond, VA
I own a house that is vacant at the present time and since it is in a commercial area there are feral cats that come and go. It is very hard to not put food out when I am there taking care of the property. Our local humane society will do nothing on their own. You have to be available to sign for a cage (150.00 responsibility), set the cage and call them to come and pick up the animal. We do not have a no kill shelter so we know these animals will be put to sleep.
I guess that everyone has their own idea of what is right and what is wrong for these animals. I prefer to feed them when I am around and I have been able to have a couple adopted so it has not been all bad. It seems the businesses like having them because they keep the rat and mice population down and there are never more than 3 or 4 so it is not bad.
This has been going on for several years with no really large over population so I think we will continue as we have in the past.
If you live in a cold area, there may be no way to keep the water from freezing. If you can afford it, you could feed the cat canned cat food at least once a day. It contains a lot of water and this may be enough to meet its needs.
I have seen some dishes that are supposed to use solar power, but have no idea if they work. I would be very skeptical that they could hold the water at a warm enough temperature to keep it from freezing overnight. If you have easy access to the spot at which you feed, you could just water them twice a day. They will learn to come when you are there and drink. Constant access to water is not necessary.
If these are feral cats you are feeding, you may or may not be helping them. They might be better off caught and rehomed, or allowed to "move on" to someone who will have them fixed and vaccinated. Domestic animals allowed to run wild disrupt the native animal populations and often suffer sad, miserable existances. You might call local cat rescue organizations and see if they can offer a better alternative. Bless you for your kind heart.
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