Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Feral Cat Recipe

Take one abandoned intact female cat and one abandoned intact male cat, add four years and produce 2,201 feral cats!!!

Dogs were domesticated roughly 15,000 years ago; whereas cats were domesticated 7,500 years ago; therefore the wild animal gene is more prevalent in cats than it is in dogs. The first litter born to abandoned domesticated cats will revert back to their wild state if they are not handled by humans!

Cats are seasonal breeders and start producing at six month of age. Also cats stay in heat until they are bred. The feline gestation period is 61-63 days and cats come into season again shortly after they have given birth. Hence, cats may produce two to three litters of three to six kittens a year. The kittens born in spring will be ready to give birth to their first litter before the year ends.

It is estimated that there are 60 Million feral cats in the United States. We estimate that there are at least 2,000 feral cats in Rolla. 12 – 14% of all impounded felines at our shelter are feral cats. These numbers do not include numerous feral kittens less than 10 weeks, since we are fortunate to be able to adopt them to the foster care of the Phelps County Animal Welfare League.

Just like any other wildlife, feral cats are attracted to food and shelter. During wildlife studies, the Conservation Department noticed that if a species is exterminated, and their territory becomes vacant, any area with plenty of food and shelter will attract more wildlife. Such wildlife will then breed to capacity and cause a population explosion larger than the original exterminated wildlife inhabitants. The same is true for feral cats.

TNR (Trap/Neuter/Return) is another method to control large amounts of feral cats, but unfortunately it is very expensive and results will not be seen for several years.

If exterminating is not the answer and TNR is cost prohibitive for small communities, what is the answer to the feral cat problem? This question has been asked for many years around the U.S. and now is asked here in Rolla. On December 2, 2009 at the City Council Chamber, we will hold the first of several Ad Hoc committees hoping to find a workable solution.

In the mean time, everybody can take the first step towards feral cat control with very little effort. Placing our daily trash in a secure receptacle will stop feral cats from finding more food and therewith, prevent them from moving into a new neighborhood.
We encourage everybody to help us find a solution to the feral cat problem by posting ideas on the City of Rolla's website at "rollacity.blogspot.com".

Inge Wilson
Animal Control Manager


Anonymous said...

I am completely in favor of getting rid of the feral cats. I have put up with being awakened by fighting "toms" and stepping in their "messes" in my yard. I try to chase them off whenever I see them starting to do their duty in my yard. At least dog owners have their pets on a leash. The cats I speak of have no collars either. No evidence of vaccinations.

KevinL said...

TNR (Trap/Neuter/Return)works far and away the best of all the solutions available. Yes, it is expensive, but not nearly as expensive as ignoring the problem. Besides that, it is just the right thing to do. These are "housecats"--bred to be pets in our homes. They are not indigenous, naturally occurring wildlife. I am not some super strident PETA-guy either. But I do think we have a different responsibility to feral cats than to say, deer. And I think TNR HAS been shown to work-- effectively and humanely.