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  • Writer's pictureBeltsville News

Kitty Post: Caring for Community Cats By Sallie Rhode

Updated: May 27, 2022

Caring for Community Cats

Living outdoors, feral cats face numerous nutritional challenges, surviving on food scraps, fruits/plants, small animals, and insects. Beltsville Community Cats (BCC) volunteers are working with colony caregivers to trap, neuter, vaccinate and return (TNVR) community cats to control their population growth and to provide access to winterized shelters during cold weather and to clean water and healthy food daily. BCC offers the following recommendations to caregivers on safe practices for feeding and suitable foods to give to feral cats.

Never allow a cat to eat wet food directly from the can as tongues can be cut, causing infections in the mouth. Never overfeed. Instead, place the portion on a dish. An adult cat should get ½ cup of dry food topped with a spoonful of canned food if possible. Excess food invites racoons, rats, mice, ants, bacterial contamination, etc., causing neighbors to complain. Feed in a discreet location in the morning and/or late afternoon. Pick left over food up once the cats are done, or when the sun goes down. Never leave a mess. Always keep the area neat and clean.

Foods to avoid include caffeine-packed drinks, alcohol, sugary foods, dairy products, raw meats, raw eggs, and fat trimmings. Never feed foods with garlic or onion. Cats can eat cooked chicken and meats when the bones are removed. Acceptable human foods in controlled portions include broccoli, carrots, asparagus, green beans, peas, spinach, fruits (e.g., blueberries, peeled apples, bananas, pumpkin, and watermelon), and grains such as bread, mashed sweet potatoes, cooked corn, mashed brown rice, and oatmeal (which are good for digestion and metabolism).

As BCC continues to grow, our needs grow too. We need volunteers to foster kittens/cats; trap, transport and overnight cats; research and respond to grant opportunities; and plan and conduct fundraising events. We depend on donations to pay veterinary bills, purchase equipment, and print materials. To learn more, visit our website Questions regarding feral cats? Leave a message at 240-444-8353 or e-mail

Follow us on Facebook ( and Instagram (@beltsville_cats). Mail donations to PO Box 942, Beltsville 20704. Join us at our YARD SALE fundraiser on “Caturday”, May 7 (10am-3pm) at Emmanuel United Methodist Church (11416 Cedar Lane, Beltsville 20705). We will be in the parking lot behind the church.

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