First, I need to clarify the difference between a feral, stray and free-roaming house cat. A feral cat is a wild cat. They are scared of humans. A stray is a cat that is not scared of humans, but is lost or has been abandoned. A free-roaming house cat is a cat that has a home, but it's humans let it go outside.
- Cats are very territorial and often live in colonies.
- A cat can become pregnant at 5-months-old.
- A pair of breeding feral cats and their offspring can produce 420, 000 kittens over a 7-year period. 75% of the feral kittens will die by 6-months of age.
- Outdoor feral cats can transmit diseases to other wildlife as well as humans. These diseases include rabies, toxoplasmosis, fleas and other viral and parasitic diseases.
- Deadly diseases that feral cats can transmit to your house cat are: Felin Leukemia Virus, Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, Kidney Disease/ renal failure, Feline Panleukopenia (Feline Distemper) and Feline Rabies. To read a bit more in depth about these diseases, click here.
- Each year 9-million dogs and cats are euthanized a year. Approximately 25,000 healthy, adoptable cats die in shelters each day.
- Cats kill wildlife at amazingly high rates. In a recent report, cats are the single greatest human linked threat to wildlife in the nation. They are killing machines. They can kill 1.3- 4 BILLION birds and 6.3-22.3 BILLION mammals ANNUALLY. Birds help pollinate plants, distribute plant seeds and control insect populations. They are a vital gear in our environmental machine.
So, what can you do?
- If you have a house cat that is driving you crazy by constantly bolting out the door or yowling to be let out, there are ways to provide a more stimulating house through "Catification". You can also try a pheromone plug-in or leash walking (I know, it sounds kind of "Crazy Cat Lady-ish"). Please do not just let your cat roam the neighborhood. It is very unsafe. Your cat could get injured by another animal, vehicle, poisoned or bring the above diseases home.
- For Feral cats, find out if your community has a Trap and Release program (TNR). These programs will humanely trap a feral cat, fix/ neuter it and then release it back into it's territory. This at lease will cut back on the amount of reproduction and overpopulation. TNR programs cost about $50/ cat as opposed to $100/ cat for euthanizing. If you are feeding a feral cat, please be responsible and have it spayed/ neutered.
Extra Reading and Where I got my Info:
- Solano Feral Cat TNR Task Force, http://www.solanoferals.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=60&Itemid=65
- Feral Cat Project, http://www.feralcatproject.org/aboutthecats_truths.aspx
- The Wildlife Society, http://joomla.wildlife.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=845&Itemid=183
- The Impact of Free-Ranging Domestic Cats on Wildlife in the United States, http://www.nature.com/ncomms/journal/v4/n1/full/ncomms2380.html
- Conservation Connections, http://conservationconnections.blogspot.com/2013/04/the-sound-of-silence-what-happens-to.html