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C2005-48

Dear Christopher Cat

A feral cat visits us for food every evening. I’ve been wondering: How well do these cats survive in the wild? What do they eat, and where do they find shelter during inclement weather?

Christopher Responds

My brother Dougie was feral for many years. He was one of the lucky ones – he survived.

Most feral cats live only two to three years.

Mortality is highest among kittens. In one study of over 2500 free-roaming female cats and their young, 75 percent of the kittens died or disappeared before they reached six months of age.

The most common cause of death was trauma.
Cats in the wild are killed by cars, guns and poisons.

Coyotes and dogs prey upon free-roaming cats, and owls and other raptors kill and eat kittens.

Other causes of death include malnutrition, parasites and diseases.

My brother Dougie was a victim of disease when he lived in the wild. As a result, he has only limited vision today.

He tells me he ate whatever rodents he could catch, and he took shelter wherever he could find it.

You can help the feral cats in your neighborhood by building a shelter and having the cat that visits you neutered and rabies vaccinated.

Neutering cuts down on fighting, and it reduces overpopulation and the malnutrition and diseases that go with it.

Moreover, vaccinating the cat for rabies will protect you and your family from this deadly disease.

Call your veterinarian or humane society today to make an appointment and ask how to humanely trap and transport the cat.

For instructions on building a feral cat shelter, check www.neighborhoodcats.org/info/wintershelter.htm.

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