Excited Cats is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more.

How to Feed Feral Cats While on Vacation: Risks & Tips

Vet approved

	Dr. Luqman Javed Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Luqman Javed

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

Cats are independent creatures, and that’s never truer than when it comes to a feral cat. Feral cats were born outside, made their own way, and have never had much, if any, contact with humans.

These cats usually live in colonies, hunt for food, and are difficult to adopt because of their wildness. While we don’t think twice about leaving a domestic cat at home with food, water, and someone to check on them when we go on vacation, taking the cat to a kennel, or even taking the cat with us, feral cats don’t have that luxury or option.

Some feral cat colonies depend on the goodness of pet lovers for food and shelter. So, what can you do about a feral cat colony that you’re taking care of if you’re going on vacation? In this article, we’ll give you a few tips and tricks for ensuring the feral cats are fed, so you can have a good time on your vacation without worrying about the cat colony at home.


Please be mindful that in some jurisdictions, feeding feral animals is strongly discouraged. For example, the AVMA doesn’t recommend feeding feral cats for public health reasons. Feeding feral cats without the intention to adopt or rescue them is considered counterproductive, as the animals will continue to reproduce in the area while still facing the many struggles of being feral. Please consider the ethical implications of your actions before deciding to feed feral animals.

3 cat face divider

The 6 Tips to Keep Feral Cats Fed While on Vacation

1. Ask a Neighbor

If you have friendly neighbors, you can ask them to check on and feed the feral cats. This is the easiest way to make sure the cats are fed and doesn’t require any extra work on your part. However, you want to make sure that the neighbor you ask is trustworthy and likes cats.

Here are a few suggestions you can follow before leaving for your trip.
  • Make a list of clear instructions to give to your neighbor for feeding the cats.
  • Let the neighbor know when they should start feeding the cats and when you’ll return.
  • Leave food and water with the neighbor. Leave extra in case you are gone longer than you think you’ll be.
  • Make sure to thank your neighbor in advance for their help.
thematic break

2. Hire a Pet Sitter

While this is a more expensive option, hiring a pet sitter can give you peace of mind knowing that the cats are being fed and have water while you’re on vacation.

A pet sitter can come to your house once or twice daily to check on the feral cats and ensure they are fed. Most pet sitters provide essential services such as feeding and changing litter boxes. However, most pet sitters only work with domestic animals. You may have to contact several businesses before you find a sitter willing to look after feral cats.

cat owner rubbing her pet cat's belly outside
Image Credit: DebraCarr, Shutterstock
thematic break

3. Set Up an Automatic Feeder for the Colony

Another option is to purchase an automatic feeder for the feral cat colony. These devices can be programmed to dispense food at certain times so that the colony is always supplied with the food it needs.

There are a few types of automatic feeders on the market today, so make sure to do your research to determine which design works best for your situation. Factors to consider when searching for an automatic cat feeder include the following:

  • How much food can the feeder hold?
  • How often is the food dispensed?
  • Does it have batteries or an AC adapter?
  • Is the feeder for wet or dry food?
thematic break

4. Leave Out Extra Food and Dispensers

It’s also a good idea to leave out extra dispensers and extra food just in case something happens and you don’t return from your vacation on time. Ensure the automatic feeder is placed out of reach of children and other animals that might play with or eat the food meant for the feral cat colony.

Siamese cat eating dry food from a bowl
Image Credit: catinrocket, Shutterstock
thematic break

5. Leave Out Fresh Water

It’s essential to leave fresh water for the cat population. You can invest in a cat fountain, so the cats have constant fresh water while you’re gone. This keeps the cats hydrated and ensures they don’t drink from standing water sources, which contain bacteria and parasites that will make them sick.

Put the water bowl or fountain in a safe spot where other animals can’t reach it.

thematic break

6. Contact Your Local Animal Shelter

If all else fails, you can contact a local animal shelter and ask if someone can keep an eye on the cat colony while you’re on vacation. You’ll need to inform the shelter about the cats and their living situation. Let them know if the cats have been spayed or neutered and if they have any medical conditions that the staff should be aware of.

Most animal shelters are willing to help look after feral cat colonies while you’re on vacation. However, you need to be prepared to pay a fee or donate to the shelter to use their services.

kitten drinking water
Image Credit: AleksandarMilutinovic, Shutterstock

cat paw divider


If you’re caring for the feral cats in your neighborhood, they’ve probably become dependent on you to provide them with fresh water and food. When you leave for vacation, it’s essential to ensure the feral cats are fed.

Whether you hire a pet sitter, contact the local animal shelter, or set up an automatic feeding station, you’ll feel better and have a much better time knowing that the felines you care for are fed and healthy while you’re gone. Feral cats are quite independent, but even wild felines require human assistance sometimes.

thematic break

Featured Image Credit: Piqsels