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Feral Cat

History


The feral cat is a small carnivorous mammal. Its ancestors is believed to be the African Wild Cat although many scientists think this is simply race of the European Wild Cat of Europe and Western Asia. All cats belong to the family Felidae. A feral cat is not a different breed of cat, merely a domesticated cat which has become “wild” and now fends for itself.


Key features

Feral cats have a overall body length of 40 – 80 cm. They can weigh approximately 3-5 kg and up to 8 kg when “owned”.

The canine teeth are long and well developed, as are the shearing teeth in the side of the mouth.

The limbs are strong and are good for springing or short bursts of speed.

The eyes are large and forward-facing, and the hearing acute.

The eyes are large and forward- facing, and have the hearing acute.

Cats come in a wide variety of colours from white to black via tabby. Feral cats are well camouflaged and highly adapted for their role as stealthy hunters. They are, of the mammals, one of the most committed to carnivorous diet.

All cats walk on the pads of their toes and have retractile claws.


Diet

Feral cats are somewhat omnivorous, although they are carnivores by nature. This means that they can eat domestic and farm birds, wild birds and small rodents including domestic pets such as gerbils and hamsters.

They will also take bread, milk and even eggs and grains when sufficiently hungry.


Habitats

The cat learnt to live with or alongside man, and as such feral cats can be found in or around most of man’s modern environments.

In a pest control sense, this means office blocks, hospitals, prisons, schools, warehouses, factories and similar properties.


Mating

Feral cats are capable of breeding year-round when indoors (such as hospital basements), but is far more usual for them to mate and give birth during the spring and summer.

It is possible for the cats to have more than on litter per season, resulting in quick explosions in numbers. Litter sizes are very dependant on the availability of foodstuffs but are usually in the range of 2-5 kittens. Double figure litters are not unknown.


Significance

The presence of feral cats can be detected by visual sightings of adults and kittens, droppings, mewing or crying and, of course, by their characteristic smell. The male cat's (tom's) urine is particularly  pungent.

They can be a threat to wildlife, urban pets and rural livestock.

Furthermore, they cause problems by damaging refuse sacks, leading to spillages etc.

Cats, especially feral cats, are natural hosts for fleas. Cat fleas can be carriers of serious bacterial diseases and are vectors of tape worms which infect domestic animals and humans. In recent years flea infestations have increased for a number of reasons, including central heating, fitted carpets (especially long pile) and increasing numbers of feral cats can lead to a large number of fleas which then begin affecting humans.


Control

Please contact East Lancashire Pest Control on 0800 023 6116 or 07535707700.