Feral Cats and Dogs, Household Pets Gone Wild

feral cats

In the area in which I live, we often see feral cats and occasionally a wild dog.  Dogs seem to draw more attention and in today’s world  are normally rounded up and taken to the pound.  Cats on the other hand seem to thrive and multiply.  After TEOTWAWKI, feral domestic animals can pose a real problem.  Many people will just turn them loose to fend for themselves.

Dogs are a problem for the obvious reason.  They can be large, threatening and hunt in packs.  In some areas, they are already a problem.  See the previous posts I have written on this subject.  The Problems of Feral Dogs in a Major Disaster and More on Feral Dogs and Other Wildlife that May be a Problem

Cats on the other hand are not as noticeable because they are small and hunt alone.  However, feral cats can be one of the biggest problems.

A recent study by the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute reports that cats are a major threat to US wildlife.  Feral cats were found to be responsible for the deaths of up to 3.7 billion birds and 20.7 billion mammals annually.  They are known to kill large numbers of game birds like quail and pheasant.  This study found that cats, especially feral ones had killed more than four times the number of birds previously estimated.  In this country, several animals including the American Robin, shrews, voles, mice, squirrels and rabbits are at risk from cat predation.

In September 18, 2012, a study published in the peer reviewed Public Health Journal, Zoonoses and Public Health found that free roaming or feral cats threaten the spread of serious diseases to humans, domestic animals, and wildlife.

The paper was authored by R.W. Gerhold of the University of Tennessee’s Center for Wildlife Health, Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, and by D.A. Jessup, retired from the California Department of Fish and Game.

The main points of the article are:

  • Free roaming cats are an important source of animal-transmitted, diseases such as rabies, toxoplasmosis, and plague.
  • Free roaming cats account for 1/3 of rabies human rabies exposure treatments in the United States.
  • The study found that since 1988, rabies has been detected more frequently in cats than in dogs; in 2008, the number of cats detected with rabies was four times higher than dogs.  In 2010, rabies cases declined for all domestic animals except cats, which comprised 62 percent of all rabies cases for domestic animals.

Feral cats spread toxoplasmosis 
Toxoplasmosis is a parasite frequently found in water or soil contaminated by cat feces.  If you are in a weakened condition, this parasite can kill you.  A 2011 study found that 63 percent of the patients with acute toxoplasmosis became infected from cat feces.

During World War 2, hunting cats became a source of meat in war torn Europe.  If you decide to hunt cats for food, be very careful how you handle them and cook them well.



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