Gary Powell: Many people have trouble recognizing a lost own cat from a neighborhood stray cat. If the cat is completely unsocial or feral, special knowledge is needed. When dealing with feral cats, the worse mistake is to ignore them, but also never attempt to pick them up. No matter how sweet she seems, handling a cat, who has never been touched, will frighten or stress her. She may struggle to get away and harm you in the process. Feral cats should not be taken to animal control ponds or shelters. Because feral cats are unsocial, they can't be adopted. Instead, the practice of Trap-Neuter-Return or TNR, is a great way to help feral cats in your community. If you don't feel comfortable Trapping a cat on your own, contact a local organization for help. When trapping a feral cat, use humane box traps. Place the trap in an area that the cat frequents. Bait the trap with strong smelling foods such as tuna or sardines.
Once the cat is inside, place a large towel or sheet over the trap before moving it. Covering the trap will help the cat keep calm. Next, take the cat to a veterinarian for vaccinations and surgical sterilization. A small tip will be taken from the left ear, which is the universal symbol, that a feral cat is neutered and vaccinated. The cat is now safe to be returned to their familiar outdoor home.