Survival for feral cats is a war they have to win by hook or crook. Although feral cats do fall on a socialization spectrum, they aren’t adoptable like domesticated cats. So, survival for a feral cat can be a bit tricky. Feral felines are particularly common and can be seen in both urban as well as rural areas. But, how do feral cats survive the wilderness or live in an urban setup without the ready availability of food and water? Let us learn all about the secret lives of feral cats and their survival skills!
Stray And Feral Cats: How Do They Differ?
Feral cats are the ones that have never had any human contact and even if they did, this interaction is very limited. On the other hand, stray cats usually were domesticated sometime in the past and have now reverted to their wild side trying to live in the streets with the help of substantial human interaction. However, it is always possible that a stray cat can eventually turn into a feral one due to a lack of human interaction for an extended period.
How Do Feral Cats Survive?
To understand how feral cats survive, we need to know how they live. In most cases, feral cats tend to live in female colonies that are linked to one another for support and protection. These cats naturally defend their area, seek shelter, and look for food and other nourishment together. Their colonies are carefully hidden from human eyes and you might not even know that feral cats are living in or around your area. Moreover, feral cats actively hunt at night and not during the daytime, which helps them stay away from any possible human intervention or interaction.
A major factor that contributes to a feral cat’s survival is its food habits. They are hunters by birth but can survive on whatever they can find. From uneaten food left by humans in the trash or small rodents such as rats or mice, feral cats can survive on any of these food sources. Leftovers are commonly found in human colonies and feral cats have understood this over time. This makes it the perfect hunting ground for rodents and if they are unable to hunt, they can easily survive on the leftovers.
Feral cats can even thrive on insects such as spiders and grasshoppers that can be easily found in an urban or rural setup. Rarely, if they can find small lizards or snakes, they love to munch on them as well. If possible, they might be able to catch a bird or two unless of course, it flies away.
While feral cats spend a lot of their time hunting, they also do their best to preserve their energy and eat food that can be found easily like scraps or garbage. This helps them deal with the energy lost during the hunting process.
How Do Cats Find Fresh Water?
Feral cats or any cat for that matter have a nose for fresh water. They can detect stench from a long distance and try to stay away from stagnant water for as long as possible. However, if they must, they drink water from stagnant water sources such as birdbaths, puddles, and even water dripping from the air conditioner hose.
These cats are very resourceful and try to find running water to quench their thirst. This could be water accumulated from rain or a nearby stream. Feral cats can also get water from the food they eat. This is very helpful in areas with a short supply of fresh water.
How Do Feral Cats Survive Harsh Winter Months?
The winters can be particularly difficult to survive for feral cats. There is always a chance that they might suffer from hypothermia or frostbite. However, if they have access to a good amount of food, survival becomes easier. Cats can withstand temperature depending on the breed they belong to. Feral cats that belong to breeds like Maine Coon, British Shorthair, or American Shorthair, can easily survive colder temperatures given their thick fur. On the other hand, breeds like the naked Sphinx tend to struggle even when living inside a warm room due to a lack of fur.
Cats often look for shelter in abandoned buildings, garages, sheds, porches, or similar locations to beat the winter chill. However, they might also seek shelter under cars, engine compartments, or similar hot places to prevent dying in the cold. In case there isn’t anything available, they might hide in a big bush or beneath dense grass to stay warm.
Feral cats also huddle together and try to stay warm. Oftentimes, hunting for food in winter months can be difficult. In such instances, feral cats are known to work as a team to collect food and survive together.
If you do happen to see feral cats struggling to cope during the winters in your area, you can put out food or create a makeshift shelter in an area away from places frequented by small children. Additionally, you can place comfortable blankets to help them. If you don’t have a spare blanket at home, you can try the Luciphia Fleece Blanket For Cats. This cozy blanket is made ultra soft to keep the cats cozy and warm even in the harshest weather.
However, keep in mind not to touch them as they might not find it comfortable and can bite you in doing so. The best you can do is help them from afar by providing them as much food as you can along with the makeshift shelter to help them cope with the winter months.
Feral cats are very tough when it comes to surviving in harsh conditions. However, make sure you bang or tap on the car before you start for the day. When you do so, the cat will run away if they are sleeping by the cat wheel. Also, you can participate in the local spay/neuter program and seek help from veterinarians to neuter the feral cats in your area. While this doesn’t help feral cats combat harsh living conditions, it does reduce the population and provide them access to ample food resources with little competition or fight.