Feral Cats

Frequently asked questions about street cats

Why doesn’t somebody just get rid of all the feral cats?

The most effective and humane way of controlling the numbers of feral cats in the long term is to run an effective trap, neuter and release scheme (TNR). 

APROP, Pego’s animal protectora, started a TNR programme for Pego’s street cats in 2023.  This was done in collaboration with Pego’s vets and the Pego Ayuntamiento,  To date (April 2024) almost 200 cats have been trapped and sterilised and treated for pests.  Any cats that are trapped and are sick or have chronic or infectious diseases, are either appropriately treated or humanely euthanised. This improves the overall health of the cat population.

Pego Ayuntamiento makes an amount of money available each year to the Pego vets to pay for the sterilisation of feral cats.  Most Ayuntamientos have a similar arrangement in their town.

All the known feral cat colonies in Pego town and Monte Pego are now registered and managed by people who are registered as authorised colony carers.  These people ensure that the cats are properly fed and cared for.  The colony carers liaise with the APROP’s TNR team “Gatos Callejeros” if they identify new cats or kittens coming to their colony, who will arrange for them to be trapped and sterilised.

Coexisting with street cats requires a collaborative effort from residents, local authorities, and animal welfare organizations. By promoting understanding, compassion, and proactive management strategies, communities can create inclusive environments where both humans and street cats can thrive together.

Who can I contact to remove cats from my property?

It is illegal to kill, harm or mistreat any cat, either domestic or feral, and they have protected rights under Spanish and Valencian law: https://www.boe.es/boe/dias/2023/03/22/pdfs/BOE-A-2023-7421.pdf

It is also illegal to relocate feral colonies, except with permission being granted after appropriate mediation, and following duly planned protocols that establishes justified cause, and then only with ethical management and with the knowledge and help of the colony carer.

If you have a problem you should ask for advice from your local Ayuntamiento or animal protectora.

The issue with moving cats is that feral cats are often territorial and, once moved to a new location, may decide to move themselves back to their original territory.  The other issue is that when one cat is moved from one location, another is very likely to move in and take its place.

This means that it may be more effective to persuade the cats to move of their own volition rather than forcibly moving them.

How can I stop feral cats from coming into my garden/property?

There are various way to make your property less attractive to cats.

  1. Never give feral cats food in your property or leave food available for them to eat.  If you feed them, they are very likely to return and then they will be your responsibility.
  2. Make your property difficult for cats to access with high, closely boarded or netted fencing.  Try running a taut string or wire across the top of your fence as a barrier as cats won’t like trying to climb over it.
  3. Cats don’t like water.  Keep a water pistol, spray bottle filled with water, or hosepipe handy for when you see them.  Or use a motion activated ‘scarecrow sprinkler’ that is set up to trigger when it detects a cat
  4. Dogs: borrow or offer to mind a friend’s dog for a while. The cats will get the idea.
  5. Visual deterrents: Reflections from old CDs strung up at cat’s height on trees can sometimes scare cats away. Or place clear plastic water bottles full of water around your garden, doorway or other places where cats spray or defecate. This also creates moving reflections that allegedly scare cats away.
  6. Use scent to keep cats away.  Some plants are supposed to repel cats such as lavender, lemon thyme, citrus, and others.  Human hair is also said to deter them.  There are also many commercial repellents for sale and recipes online for homemade spray repellents.  Note: before using any product consider whether it could contaminate your soil.
  7. Sonic deterrents can be purchased that are audible only to animals.

Do feral cats spread diseases to domestic animals or people?

There are feline diseases that are endemic in untreated feral cats, specifically feline leukaemia and feline immunodeficiency virus.  These diseases can be transmitted to domestic pet cats, particular FIV for which there is no vaccine currently, and no cure.  Transmission is usually via male cats fighting and inflicting deep bite wounds.  This is another argument for TNR as trapping cats that are infected means that they can be ethically euthanised to prevent the further spread of the disease, and cats that are sterilised are much less likely to fight.

Cats shed toxoplasma gondii parasite in their faeces, where it can spread to other animals or people by contaminating water and soil. This is a particular risk with young children or pregnant women. Research has shown that free-roaming cats that are managed and are provided with proper food are much less likely to be exposed to the T. gondii parasite than solitary, feral domestic cats living in undeveloped landscapes. Therefore managing feral colonies helps mitigate the spread of toxoplasmosis in cats, humans and wildlife.

Other serious diseases such as rabies and typhus can be spread via cats, but this is not common nor a known issue in Spain.

How can I tell if a cat has been sterilised?

Ferals that are trapped for sterilisation are usually marked by either removing the tip of one of their ears, or by cutting a notch in one of their ears.  This is done by the vet while they are under anaesthetic.  This is a permanent physical record of their sterilisation.  While it is often possible to see whether a male cat has been sterilised or not, it is often impossible to tell whether a female cat has been sterilised previously as the operating scar heals and becomes invisible. 

It is important that all domestic pet cats are ID chipped so that it is possible to determine whether they have an owner and whether or not they have been sterilised.

What should I do if I find a feral cat that is sick, injured, pregnant or already has kittens?

If you find a cat that is sick or pregnant, it should be taken to your local vet who will check whether or not it has an ID chip.  The vet will be able to advise next steps for the cat.  If you are not able to handle or trap the cat, then please contact your local animal protectora who may be able to help or advise you.

If you find a cat with young kittens, and they are in a safe place, it is best to leave the kittens with the mother until they are weaned and advise your local animal protectora about the location of the cat.  The cat and the kittens should be sterilised to prevent further unwanted kittens and your animal protectora may be able to help or advise you how to do this.


APROP Protectora d’Animals

Tel: 611 08 50 24

Pego Ayuntamiento

Tel: 965 57 00 11

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