What Is A Feral Cat?
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Feral cats are domestic cats who have been abandoned (and the kittens
born to them), and become wary of humans. Feral cats are not usually
interested in contact with people, and may be as wild in behavior as
actual wild animals such as racoons, bobcats and coyotes. Kittens born
outdoors, away from human contact, will nearly always be feral, even
if the mother is tame there are just too many things for a baby
kitten living outside to be afraid of!
How Do They Respond To Humans?
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There are degrees of feral behavior some ferals will vanish from
sight if they so much as see a human from a distance, some will come
forward to be fed (but not touched) in your back yard. If a feral kitten
is captured between four and eight weeks old, he or she can often be
How Do Cats Become Feral?
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There are estimated to be as many as 60 million feral cats in the United
States alone, and many, many more throughout the world. Wherever people
live, they bring their pets, and then sometimes abandon them, unspayed
or unneutered, to survive on their own.
Modern domestic cats, like their rural ancestors,
are programmed to produce an excess number of kittens, up to four litters
per year. The feline birthrate vs the human birthrate is now approximately
45 to 1 (45 kittens for every human child), much higher than the puppy-to-human
baby ratio of 15-1. Even factoring in infant mortality, thats
a staggering number of cats and kittens, many of whom are unwanted by
Should We Take Them To
An Animal Shelter? (back to top)
That is your decision, but you should know that animal shelters euthanize
a lot of cats, many of which are ferals trapped and brought in by people
who don't want them. These people usually realize they are condemning
the cats to death (after a few days of unimaginable stress in metal
cages, surrounded by foreign smells and the feared enemy, human beings,
ferals in shelters are euthanized because they are unadoptable), but
have no idea what else to do with all the homeless cats breeding in
Does Project Purr Have
A Better Solution? (back to top)
Yes, we do. The logical and humane solution to feral cat overpopulation
is called TNR (Trap /Neuter/ Return), in which the cat is humanely trapped,
spayed or neutered, and, if it cannot successfully be tamed to live
with humans, returned to a safe environment. This is Project Purr's
underlying strategy in rescuing and working with feral cats.
We Feed Feral Cats? (back to
If you feed feral cats, you MUST have them altered, since they will
continue to breed. Project Purr offers humane traps, as do animal shelters
and many feed stores. We are also able to advise you about Trap/Neuter/Return
and related issues you can contact us at 831.423.MEOW.
History (back to top)
The domestic feline population in general has exceeded the prolific
state of the human population. True wild cats produce small litters
a cougar, for example, will produce one or two cubs, and spend
two years raising them. Some scientists now believe that, after centuries
of living with and around humans, domestic cat genes altered in response
to the extra food that human societies generate (originally, cats began
living with people, as in Egypt, because of the large numbers of rodents
that live around farms and granaries).
Over the centuries, the domestic
cat's reproduction rate adjusted to the life of a farm or village cat,
where there was adequate food, and predation by dogs, foxes and competing
tom cats kept the kitten population more or less in balance. However,
cats' bodies haven't had time to adjust to modern urban life, with its
overcrowded cities and surburbs and gigantic, paved-over malls. Feral
cats, who may have done fairly well in the recent, more rural past,
are certainly not equipped to handle traffic, loss of habitat, and a
drastically reduced amount of food. (back