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Feral Cat Information

What is a Feral Cat?

Feral cats have multiple definitions. There is the definition used in a 2003 article published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, that says a feral cat is “untamed and evasive; they either were born in the wild and lack socialization or were returned to the wild and became untrusting of humans.”

Wolf, Peter J. "What Is a Feral Cat?" Petfinder. Petfinder, n.d. Web. 22 June 2017.

Trap-Neuter-Return program

What's the difference between a stray cat and a feral cat?

It is not always easy to tell the difference between a stray cat and a feral cat.  Both are pet cats. Stray cats are cats that were once owned and have strayed from home.  Stray cats are homeless tame cats.  Over time, without humane socialization, stray cats can become feral cats.  Feral cats are pet cats that have never had human contact, and will not willingly interact with humans.

Check out this PDF from Alley Cat Allies to learn more.

Stray vs feral cats.
Tipped ears.

What are feral cats classified as in the State of Idaho?

Feral cats are not classified by Idaho Fish and Game as wildlife, they are feral pet animals.

Is it legal to kill feral cats in the state of Idaho?

According to Idaho Fish and Game:

“The killing of feral cats is so much more than a simple legal question and answer. It may be legal when protecting your property, such as feral cats engaged in the taking of your livestock or even pets. Taking a feral cat in the wilds of Idaho would require a valid hunting license.
However, there are other considerations to keep in mind:
Are you in a city limit that prohibits the discharge of a firearm? Does the county have a no shooting safety ordinance for your neighborhood?
Is the cat actually Feral, or has Muffy escaped their yard and the 8 year old owner out looking for their pet kitty?”

Click here to learn more about Idaho Animal Laws; Title 25 Animals, Chapter 35 Animal Care.  

Who is responsible for the care of feral cats in the state of Idaho?

In the eyes of the State of Idaho, the responsibility falls on the property owner unless the county or city they reside in has their own specific ordinances for feral cat care.  Latah County does not have any animal control or regulations for cats.  The city of Moscow does not have any specific animal code for cats or feral cats.  The responsibility than falls on the property owner.

According to Idaho Animal Code, control and responsibility of feral cats fall on the property owner.

Does the Humane Society of the Palouse take in feral cats?

The HSoP is unable to take in wild, free-roaming cats because the shelter does not contain facilities conducive to the care of untamed animals. 

Though HSoP wants to have the ability to take in feral cats, we have limitations.  Feral cats require safety equipment that HSoP does not have, nor can HSoP afford at this point in time.  In order to take in ferals, HSoP would also need to expand enough to take in additional animals that are not companion animals, which at this time is not financially possible.  For 40 years HSoP has served Latah County and the City of Moscow’s needs for companion, tame animals.  We do not have the labor, training, equipment or expertise to take care of wild animals. 

Though HSoP is unable to take in feral cats, we do offer a program that helps to limit infectious diseases and unwanted births among feral cats in Latah County. Our Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program works to safely trap feral cats so our vet partners can vaccinate and sterilize them before being released where they were found. This program is offered for all residents of Latah County and helps immensely with reducing the homeless cat population. HSoP will cover all costs associated with feral cats who benefit from our TNR program. For more information, visit our TNR page

How can you help feral cats?

One way you can help feral cats in Latah County is to get them involved in the HSoP TNR program. This ensures that they are properly vaccinated against infectious diseases and spayed or neutered to prevent any future litters of homeless cats. 

Visit:  to learn more about how you can help local feral cats!

HSoP Position on Feral Cats

For 40 years, we have served local animals under our mission statement: “The Humane Society of the Palouse is a no-kill animal shelter located in Moscow ID, founded in 1978.  Our mission is to ensure the humane treatment, welfare and safety of companion animals in Moscow and Latah County.  We strive to prevent cruelty to animals, to ensure companion animals are adopted by responsible and caring owners, to promote spaying/neutering, to educate the public regarding responsible pet ownership, and to minimize euthanasia.”


We are acutely aware of the feral population in Latah County, the city of Moscow and the UI Campus and are doing everything within our means and ability to help.  We are locally operated with a small staff and dedicated volunteers. 


There are currently no regulations or ordinance for felines in Latah County.  We recommend that this be the starting point for containing this issue. Without regulation, feral cats continuously have unwanted and uncared for litters.  If there were enforceable animal code regarding responsible ownership of cats in Latah County, we would see a decrease in unwanted animals.


We are actively taking measures to find a solution for ferals. We are looking into grants for funding a feral solution program, and re-organizing our own operation in order to help alleviate the feral burden without jeopardizing the animals in our shelter.


In our mission statement, we state that we will find homes for companion animals. There are many reasons for this. To provide services for feral animals, we would need a new facility with up to date kennels for the safety of the staff and animals, we would need more funding for specialized training and gear. At this time, those needs cannot be met with current funding or facility.

TNR program.

In the past, HSoP partnered with the FCS program.  Where we engaged in doing a TNR providing preventative care as well as euthanization for those with HIV, or those with extremely poor health.  Our FCS program was able to make ends meet by charging $50 per cat.  The FCS clinics were a “win win” for cat owners, WSU vet med students, and HSoP.  FCS has since dissolved.

Humane Live Traps

Tips and Tricks to Trapping Feral Cats

  1. Trap entrance 

    1. This is where the feral cat will enter ​

  2. Weight lever​

    1. Once the cat steps on this, the door will close trapping the cat inside. ​

  3. Place food here to entice the cat to walk into the trap and put weight on the lever. ​






Disguise the trap to look like a cozy den. This will help the fearful ferals feel more comfortable going into the trap.


What tasty food to put in the trap? 

  • Canned cat food

  • Tuna fish

  • Sardines (no additives)

  • Gerber baby food (ham or turkey)

Other Trapping Information:

  • You must own the property you are trapping on.

    • If you rent, you must have the land owners verbal consent to set a trap.​
  • If you catch any kind of wildlife, call Palouse Wildlife and Rehabilitation for instructions on humanely releasing the animal. (208) 614-2273​

Helping that stubborn feral get into the trap

  • If a cat is reluctant to enter the trap, you may need to help them get more comfortable with it. Clip the trap door open, so it will not shut when weight is on the lever. Leave the door open for a few days, so the cat can come and go as it pleases. This will create a routine for the cat. After four-five days, remove the clip and prepare to catch the cat. 

  • Create a food trail leading into the trap. Place some food outside the trap door, and drop pieces every few inches to entice the cat to walk into the trap. 

  • Cover the traps like the photos above. Feral cats like to find covered hidey holes or dens to stay in. This makes them feel protected against predators. Try covering the traps with a blanket, or some leaves and twigs.

  • Try different locations. If the cat is reluctant to enter the trap where you have it, try relocating the trap to other locations on your property. 

I've trapped the what? 

  • Great job! The toughest part is over. Now that the cat is in the trap, place a blanket or towel over the top. This will help them stay relaxed, and protect you from any claws or teeth if they panic! 

  • Take your cat to the vet to have it spayed/neutered, vaccinated, and ear-tipped. 

  • Once your feral has been taken care of at the vet office, it's time to release them back to their home. 

    • Releasing a feral cat back to the same location has a lot of great perks for the cat and the property owner! ​

    • Feral cats do not like people, which means they won't bother you. They just need a nice place to sleep, and maybe a little cat chow! 

    • Feral cats will reduce your pesky rodent population! 

    • Fixed feral cats will not be inclined to allow intact cats to come onto the property. They will keep other feral cats from coming to your property. One feral cat is perfect...but nobody wants ten! 

    • You saved a homeless pets life! 

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