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  • Not-so-scary Mary – from feral beginnings to a fairytale ending! 
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    • 22 Aug, 2019

    Not-so-scary Mary – from feral beginnings to a fairytale ending! 

    Whilst many Londoners may not fully understand what is meant by the term ‘feral cat’, feral and semi-feral felines are a growing problem across the city.

    Unneutered females are able to reproduce from just five months old, and can have up to three litters a year.

    The majority of feral cats have different needs to their domestic counterparts. However, if a feeder or member of the public handles a feral-born kitten – like Mary – in the first few weeks of their life, they can eventually become fully domesticated.

    Tiny Mary and her brother were born to a semi-feral mother in a colony known to Mayhew through our Trap, Neuter, Return (TNR) programme – but unfortunately, the young male passed away shortly after birth.

    A few weeks later, our Animal Welfare Officers returned to the same colony to continue TNR-ing, and noticed that Mary had a sore eye and pronounced squint. It wasn’t clear whether this was caused by an infection or an injury. As Mary had been handled by a member of the public who was feeding the colony, she was confident and curious around people, and our AWOs were able to bring her in for treatment alongside her mum.

    Whilst Mary’s mum could be returned to the colony shortly after being neutered, there was a risk that Mary herself would be rejected by the other members if we took her back after a longer period of time away.


    Luckily, as Mary was semi-socialised already, our Cattery staff moved her in to a cosy kitten cabin, and continued to interact with her every day.

    Thankfully, Mary’s sore eye healed quickly with no complications, and she was then placed with a foster carer until she reached 12 weeks of age, when she would become available for adoption.

    Two weeks later, Mary was finally ready to be rehomed. She was snapped up straight away by a besotted new owner and now lives a life of luxury as a beloved pet.

    Whilst most feral cats will not experience the same ‘rags to riches’ fairytale as Mary, there are numerous ways in which we can all help individual felines and colonies living out on the streets.

    Many colonies will live close to or within residential areas, as they too are likely to benefit from local residents leaving out food and water.


    Our TNR programme helps control and contain the local feral cat population, and relies on the general public to help us identify where colonies are living. There are thousands of feral cats in hidden spots all over London, and it is important that they are neutered in order to stop them breeding and prevent the spread of diseases such as Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) and Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV).

    Our Animal Welfare Officers respond to calls daily, trapping reported feral cats on location before bringing them back to Mayhew for neutering and health checks. Most older cats that we trap and neuter are released back to their original colony location, providing the area is suitable and a safe environment for them.


    Have you spotted a feral cat colony?

    Learn more about Trap, Neuter, Return programme, and find out how this helps keeping local colonies healthy. If you have seen or know of a feral cat colony, or you are at all concerned about the health of a stray or feral cat, please call us on 020 8960 800.

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