There are reported to be 60 million homeless cats in the United States alone. These are feral cats—born to a feral female—and domestic cats gone wild or roaming free after being abandoned or dumped. While there are numerous organizations and agencies and private parties working very hard to save homeless cats, we don’t seem to be making much progress. Or maybe we are—perhaps we just didn’t have a count on the situation until fairly recently. Maybe the number of homeless cats was much higher before we became so active in trying to save them.
There’s the trap-neuter-release (TNR) program now and many more shelters and colony-managers than ever before. Of course, rehabilitation is often a part of this process where possible as are fostering and adoption.
For some cats, the best that can be done, once they’re returned to their colony, is a regular feeding program and maybe warm huts set up during winter for the cats and cool shelters during summer where they’re safe from predators.
I find it interesting what other countries are doing to help their unwanted free-range cats. In Japan, for example, there are several cat islands where there are more cats in residence than people. Aoshima, Japan is one of them. There are more than 100 cats living on the small island and only 15 permanent residents. And the people do feed the cats. They look healthy! Since this island was exposed online, however, the residents are being overwhelmed by tourists. Here’s a site with some amazing photographs of the cats on Aoshima Island. https://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2015/03/a-visit-to-aoshima-a-cat-island-in-japan/386647/
Cats are part of the Japanese tradition and history. In fact upper class Japanese were already living with cats in their homes a thousand years ago. Today there are shrines honoring cats and many beliefs embedded in the Japanese culture involving or related to the cat. This culture came up with Hello Kitty, after all. And they even have cat trains, cat cafés and a train terminal shaped like a cat.
But there are free-range cats everywhere—even in Venice. Marianna Zampieri has photographed some of them as they interact with shop owners and tourists in the business district. Her photographs are wonderful. Treat yourself by visiting this site. https://www.boredpanda.com/cats-in-venice/