What is a feral cat?

We are Forgotten Felines of Sonoma County

There are three classifications of feral cats:

Total Feral – a wild cat with no previous human contact or only negative contact
Semi-Feral – a shy or fearful cat that has had some positive human contact
Converted Feral – an abandoned domestic cat that has reverted to semi-feral behavior
Community Cat – a tame, stray cat that is being cared for by a Good Samaritan(s)

Feral cats are unowned wild cats, often offspring of abandoned, unfixed domesticated cats. They may form colonies near a source of food. Feral cats will breed and overpopulate very quickly if their numbers are not controlled by spaying and neutering. In many cases feral cats perform a welcome service in the form of natural rodent control, and are often appreciated by livestock owners and farmers. However, it is still strongly advisable to keep the population under control and prevent unwanted litters of kittens. Even if the kittens are caught and tamed and rehomed, there are always many, many more cats in our county shelters waiting to be adopted, therefore the first choice should be to prevent more babies from being born.

What services does Forgotten Felines offer to assist the public with feral cats?

We hold weekly low-cost spay/neuter clinics for feral and community cats. We loan traps when needed (as available) for people using our clinics. With 20+ years’ experience, we consider ourselves to be feral cat experts. We can offer guidance, information, and support for people trying to control a cat population. Our staff and volunteers have a wealth of knowledge to share regarding taming feral kittens, deterrence of unwanted behavior, feeding guidelines, and, of course, trapping. We are standing by to help get you started with managing your colony. Call us to sign up for a clinic or get help with a problem! (707) 576-7999.

What is a colony?

A colony is a group of cats that congregate in a specific location. This usually occurs due to a consistent source of food, such as a dumpster behind a restaurant, a barn/field full of mice, a natural body of water, etc. A “colony” can consist of one or more cats.

What is a colony caretaker?

The caretaker is the person who takes responsibility for the daily feeding, providing clean water, monitoring the cats for health problems and making certain that any newcomers to the colony are altered promptly so the colony doesn’t grow in size due to reproduction.

Is there a difference between a colony in my backyard and a colony in a commercial or public area?

No, but where the colony is located could make a different as to how you manage the colony..
Whether the colony of cats is in a residential neighborhood, on rural property, or near a business, the same basic guidelines apply. If you want to trap/neuter/release (TNR) feral cats to prevent overpopulation, you should either trap exclusively on your own property, or with the property owner’s permission. If it’s your backyard, ranch, or business, there is no problem. However if the colony is residing on someone else’s property it is best to get their participation and/or agreement with your trapping arrangements. Keep in mind that the smaller the property, the more chance that the cats will roam outside the property boundary – and have an effect on neighboring residences or businesses. The more cats there are, the more “above the radar” they will be to the neighborhood. Controlling the population by spaying and neutering makes for good neighbor relations!

Will you remove a feral cat from my back yard if I don’t want it to stay there?

In most cases, no.
Forgotten Felines does not operate a sanctuary, and relocating a feral cat can be a difficult process and is not generally in the cat’s best interest. We can, however, provide Safe Relocation Guidelines if you are interested in attempting this. First you have to find a willing homeowner and a safe location. Removing a cat from its established territory is only done as a last resort and only if a safe relocation site is available. Once that relocation site is found, the feral cat must be caged for four weeks at the new site so it can become accustomed to the sights, sounds and smells of its new home. In addition, a regular feeding pattern is established. This is the only motivating factor we have to encourage the cat to stay at its new home. Please contact us for more information regarding relocation. (707) 576-7999. Ultimately, if at all possible, the better choice is to leave the cat where it is, after altering the cat to prevent the undesirable behavior.

If you only take care of feral (wild) cats then why do you have an adoption program?

Feral cats are not adoptable. Their only option is to be outdoor cats. However, sometimes tame cats who have been abandoned or lost find their way into our established colonies. (They are drawn to the food source.) Tame cats or community cats are removed from the colonies when possible, and placed into our adoption program where we find them homes. Sometimes feral females from the colonies where we are trapping have kittens before we can capture and alter them. The kittens are then removed from the colony (when we have foster parents available), socialized and then go up for adoption at our adoption locations.

Will you take other previously owned cats into your adoption program?

We do not take surrendered pets. If you can no longer take care of your own cat, please try to find it a new home with friends, family members, through your veterinarian or safe social media contacts. If after exhausting all of these efforts you are still unsuccessful, then contact the animal shelter that serves your jurisdiction or the Sonoma Humane Society for assistance.

How do I get started getting my feral cats fixed?

Email or Call (707) 576-7999 and speak to one of our staff, Monday-Friday 9:00-5:00. If you call after hours please leave your name and phone number and someone will call you back. We can answer all your questions about TNR and spay/neuter, and will mail you additional information and literature regarding trapping, caretaking, and the protocols for using our services. WE WANT TO HELP YOU GET YOUR COLONY SPAYED AND NEUTERED!

Make a difference


We can’t do what we do without a fantastic group of volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering, fill out this form and we will contact you.


All donations go to providing needed care for Sonoma County’s unowned cats. There are multiple ways to give. Learn more