Nancy - if you are serious about getting a cat..there are agencies who trap, vet and re-home feral cats. They could never be home 'pets'. But make great outdoor cats. Without folks who can take them, they'd be PTS.
For the past twenty five + years or so, that is what I do. They require for you to take (at least) two at a time. Those two cats are part of the same feral colony, so they are already social to eachother.
It has been my experiance that within the first few months the cats allow you in their 'space' while you feed etc. After about six months I can run my hand down their backs while they eat. I'll feed high value food (tuna etc.) in a kennel every once in a while so I can easily crate them when I need to vet them.
Although we do have coyotes as well, I've never lost a cat to them. We have a large two story barn and they learn to stay in the rafters looking for varmin. I guess they go up there if the coyotes get too close. I also have my tack/feed room set up so they can enter it from the top, but the dogs can't get in unless the door is open.
I'm not sure if it's because they are feral, but they don't wander very far. They don't go visiting neighbors. I can walk outside anytime and call them and they'll come running. They rarely tease the dogs. If hubby and I are out they'll come and investigate. One of the cats I have now will follow me around, even if I walk out into the back pasture (unless I have the dogs with me). She'll call to me and talk to me. She'll let me pet her, as long as I don't try to hold her she is fine.
I've never had a feral cat that doesn't at some point come looking for loving. Nor have I had one run off. They don't allow any other cats around. I never have a rodent problem. The oldest feral cat I had was 16 when she died. I don't know why, but I've never had any health problems either.
Just a thought.
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