Unless your area has a well-managed feral population control program, chances are, you might come across a feral cat every now and then. While they look all royal and cute from afar, are they just as safe and wonderful when you interact with them? Feral cats are, to most extent, wild animals that might come to your neighborhood in search of food. Keep in mind that they seldom interact with humans. So, it is better to keep your distance.
But are they really dangerous? Could you domesticate one? Should you try and keep one as a pet? Let us learn more about feral cats and whether or not they are dangerous to us.
Are Feral Cats A Whole Other Species?
This is the biggest myth you will come across when learning about feral cats. Given the way they live and the look they flaunt, one might confuse them as a whole other species as compared to most domesticated or semi-feral cats.
However, the only differentiator between a domesticated cat and a feral cat is the fact that they both have different behavioral patterns. They both belong to the same feline species, but they tend to thrive in an outdoor setting. Given the urban setting of domesticated cats, they are more relaxed and friendly as compared to feral cats.
Feral simply refers to their behavioral description. They aren’t actually socialized to live with us, and thus the confusion. Stray cats or domesticated cats rely on us to thrive. So, you might see your pet rubbing against your leg or meowing occasionally.
Alternatively, feral cats tend to be elusive. They tend to avoid being in contact with human beings. They live closely with their fellow ferals in a closely-knit colony.
Do Feral Cats Attack Pets And Humans?
Some of you might fear, especially if you aren’t aware of the behavioral patterns of a feral, that the cat might attack you or your pet. However, this is a major misconception. Cats, like any other animal, attack only when it comes to self-preservation. So, unless you attack them or try any other activities that seem threatening to them, you might have to deal with a ferocious, feral cat.
When dealt with the right way, a feral cat can slowly develop friendly feelings toward the ones that feed or take care of it. They aren’t dangerous to you unless, of course, you are their prey which is true for rodents or similar small animals.
If you are fearful for your pet, there is nothing to worry about. Even if your pet tries to charge toward the feral cat, it will most likely try and escape the situation. Unless there is no way out, the feral cat won’t attack your pet. So, if a similar situation arises, make sure you try and control your pet so that the feral can escape easily.
Moreover, it is highly unlikely that your pet will come across a feral cat. They are nocturnal by nature and tend to hunt around mostly at night. So, there is a rare chance for your pet to cross paths with feral cats.
Can Feral Cats Spread Diseases?
Apart from the fear of feral cats, people also worry about them being unvaccinated and thus spreading diseases in the community they frequent. However, as per the CDC, it is rare for a feral cat to spread any feline disease to humans. In general, ferals don’t pose any threat to human beings.
However, there is a chance that your pet cat might counteract a disease from the feral it recently came in contact with. So, the key is to ensure that your cat gets a regular checkup from the veterinarian and is up to date with the vaccination. If not, it is ideal that you get it done at the earliest to avoid any transmission of diseases.
Domesticated cats that are neutered or spayed aren’t as likely to catch diseases as compared to the ones that aren’t neutered. This is because the intact cats are more likely to fight with the feral cats in order to assert dominance in the area. This interaction could result in the transmission of diseases such as rabies.
Let us check out some more benefits of neutering a feral cat.
|Heat cycles are eliminated||Females won’t attract males and thereby reducing the area population of feral cats|
|Keep to their areas||Neutered felines don’t roam around in search of other females and keep to a limited area, thus allowing better monitoring|
|Limited risk of tumors or cancer||Neutering, especially in females, helps reduce the risk of ovarian or uterine cancer. It also helps bring down the risk of tumors in mammary glands|
|No more kittens||Neutering a male or female ensures that there are no more kittens in the future. This is especially helpful if the female is neutered|
|A longer and healthier life||With a reduced risk of diseases, a feral cat will live a longer and healthy life. Plus, they are less likely to indulge in fights|
Should Feral Cats Be Kept In A Shelter?
When any human notices a feral cat in their area, the very first response is to get in touch with the nearest animal shelter. However, if the cat is feral, a shelter might not be well-suited for such a feline. Most of us aren’t aware of the fact that the shelter authorities might put down the cat if there aren’t any takers, and there won’t be because feral cats aren’t easy to domesticate.
Even if they aren’t euthanized, they will be kept in cages which can be very damaging and stressful for a cat that has lived its entire life roaming and hunting outdoors. So, it is better to seek help from organizations that humanely capture, neuter, & monitor the cat while they continue their lives outdoors. You can also arrange dedicated caregivers that provide them with fresh water and food. Doing this will instill domestic behavior in ferals cats in the long term. You can keep a separate bowl for them outside, but make sure you clean it regularly to avoid bacterial growth. You can bring home the PETNF Raised Cat Food Bowls. These ceramic bowls are ideal for cats and can easily be washed in the dishwasher.
Feral cats are just like other wild animals. Unless you provoke them, they will keep their distance and won’t necessarily attack you by any chance. You can even be their caregiver by keeping food or water for them outside your house in the yard or on your porch. Make sure you don’t rush things, or you might frighten them. Be patient!