Explaining Australian Feral Cat

All cat's are cat's

Wild animal Advocates

Ecologists agree  around the world that one of the biggest threats to wildlife is Felis catus. Felis catus comes from wild cats. Felis silvestris lybica. These two cats are known by common names, domestic cat and African wild cat…

The African wild cat survives in the African wild with exquisite hunting and survival skills. It inhabits large grassy plains (steppes), tropical grasslands with scattered trees (savannas) and wild uncultivated country (bushland). A native of Africa, it does not threaten the survival of species, driving them to extinction. The African wild cat is not an apex predator and exists as a hunter and the hunted.

Felis Cactus. Nine, Seven Or Six Lives?

It's a myth. But of course, you knew that. You are also probably aware that domestic cats date back to Egyptian times. Facts are sketchy, so people have filled in the blank bits. And why not? Cats are intriguing creatures. Fantastically agile, enormously entertaining, and as arrogant as an aristocrat flaunting its privilege. Spoiler alert. Sorry, cats only have one life.

Felis Catus hunting

However, some cats have better lives than other cats. How so? It probably depends on your perspective. Some people see feral cats as wild cats, supreme hunters surviving against the odds. Competing against a changing climate, bushfires, floods, and drought. Having that frame of mind, t's easy to visualise a wild cat simply finding its place in the natural scheme of things. Nature will balance it out.

Owners of cats have a different mindset. Completely understandable. Their cat knowledge is mostly driven by experience with their cat. Of primary concern is cat health. A couple of reasons stands out. First is the cost of medical attention. Insurance is good, but a healthy cat is better. The second reason is that a healthy cat is less likely to bring disease into the house. Significant to parents of young children that will want to play and nurse the cat.

Owners of cats fall into two groups. There are owners that will confine their cats to the property and keep them indoors at night. Yes, there is an expense, but the benefit is no cats fighting and possible infection from bites and scratches. Some councils mandate, through council laws, a cat containment policy. Some owners confine their cats even if the council hasn't yet passed confinement laws. They do so because they realise doing it's responsible.

There are other groups. The owner of a cat that lets it roam. The cat will come home for food and shelter. A roaming  will seek a territory and mark the boundary. This is a dangerous activity during daylight hours and is more likely to be a nocturnal adventure. They will fight other cats when mating, making vicious cat howels and hissing. Not all cats have been neutered and this becomes feed stock for feral and unowned cats.

There is another group that operates in the shadows. These are advocates of TNR. Trap Neuter and Release is a program that is supported by some vets, even though it is illegal to release cats into the environment. This is an imported practice that originated in the UK, and went to the USA and Europe. The practice gained popularity. These countries have huge problems with feral and unowned cats. People have become overly emotional about cat welfare at the expense of all other considerations.

Of course, the difficulties with cats in Australia are multi-tiered. But the primary consideration that management of cats is measured against is the environment. Mammals, amphibians, lizards, goannas and birds live in the extensive environment we call Australia. To manage the environment properly, we have got to manage the cat population wherever it is. How we manage feral cats, unowned cats and owned cats has taken many years of investigation, creation of laws and education for responsible cat ownership.

Do Feral Cat have nine lives?

As discussed previously, cats only have one life. On average. Feral cats live short lives, only 5 years compared to owned cats that live on average 9 to 15 years. They live in the wild and can survive without human reliance or contact.

Feral cat predation is widely known now through education, news and media services. The environment has come into focus over the last few years with the expectation we should protect it and restore it back to health. That means removing feral animals and restoring the natural balance in nature.

Felis Catus hunting

Available her for free download: Tackling Feral Cats and Their Impacts - Frequently asked questions

Do unowned cats live good lives?

Unowned cats are miserable. They live wretched lives. They rely on human feeders who are not owners. Food is only one requirement, someone has got to be responsible for the health and well-being of a cat, but by definition it is unowned. Animal activists who promote TNR will feed the clowder, and continue to trap other unowned cats at their expense for the TNR program. This is misguided animal welfare.

The future of unwanted abandoned cats is not all bleak. If the animal is trapped and taken to a vet for examination and treatment, an assessment can be made for sociability. If it is a social animal, it will be available for adoption. That is a good outcome. Unfortunately, not all cats are social animals. If the cat has matured without human contact, it is unlikely to make a good house cat.

TNR (Trap Neuter & Release) is not recommended by ecologists and animal welfare professionals across Australia. However, a program called TNA Trap Neuter and Adopt would be well-supported by all animal lovers.

As for feral cats and unsociable unowned cats, the only solution is euthanasia. The notion of releasing the animal to live an existence outside human control is not possible if we are to take the issue of indigenous endangered species seriously. 

What is the story on owned cats?

It's a great story and worth celebrating. Owned cats are happy cats. They are part of the family and provide feelings of well-being. They are good for children to learn how to be responsible pet owners.

Poster Boy Cat