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Feral Cats 2

Posted Monday, August 17, 2009, at 7:35 AM

A magnified picture of a cat flea.
Britain has an estimated 7 million pet cats and 1 million ferals. By comparison, the United States has approximately 60 million pet cats and 60 million ferals. Feral populations are swollen by breeding and the dumping of unwanted pets; 5 million cats and dogs are 'dumped' annually according to the US Department of Agriculture while American surveys suggest that between 36% and 60% of unneutered pet cats go feral within 3 years.--Americanferalcat.com- http://www.feralcat.com/sarah3.html [I'm not sure why they compared us to the UK and not some other country, perhaps it's because both countries contain many pet lovers.]

I'd like to straighten out the confusion between stray cats and feral cats. Stray cats usually have a home, or have had one that it's no longer welcome in. Feral cats are wild animals. Think of feral cats like raccoons, possums, skunks, foxes. Don't go near them they do bite. Most adult feral cats don't tame down well but young kittens, given time and TLC, can be tamed.

Now, feral cats with rabies are more dangerous because rabies can change their personality. A normal feral cat won't let you within 10 feet of them. A rabid feral cat will act like fluffy who lives in your house and will curl up on your lap for a good pet session, then switch to frightened and aggressive at the drop of a hat.

Why do feral cat colonies keep growing? Those of us who grew up on farms may be able to give you a clue. Farm cats are rodent control but they aren't the top of the food chain. They have owls, foxes, coyotes and occasionally mountain lions that eat them.

In town, cats are at the top along with raccoons, possums, and skunks. They have no larger predators to keep their population in check. One might compare this to the large turkey and deer populations that are highway hazards.

What does keep a cat colony in check when there are no predators? It's one word that the world tries to conquer on a daily basis. Disease. http://www.vet.cornell.edu/fhc/brochures... Your cat, if he/she does go outside will probably have an encounter with a stray or feral cat. Certain diseases don't require direct contact like rabies does. Keeping your cat inside does not prevent them from getting a few diseases. You can carry it in on your clothes and your dog can bring it in on their feet. It can be on sidewalks, in the park or anywhere you walk your dog. Do you remember those pictures of the people in China after SARS came out? They wore gloves and masks and disinfected every touchable surface in public places. That may be a little extreme for most cat diseases but you get the point.

Predators and disease isn't the only cause of death with cats. Cats cause the death of cats. Cats do fight with one another. Fight wounds are usually bite wounds and cats have mega quantities of bacteria in their mouths. Bite wounds occasionally abscess (a pocket of infection and white cells that fight the infection), abscesses lead to high fevers and secondary pneumonia if untreated, and death. If the cat does manage to survive, they won't be reproducing for a short while. Biting is also the way to spread feline leukemia, feline aids, feline infectious peritonitis and Rabies (Rabies is spreadable to humans).

Poor nutrition also leads to poor reproduction, reduced ability to fight infection and less energy to win a fight.

Feline Reproduction-

Usually a kittens first heat cycle is between 6-9 months of age. The average litter of is between 3-5 kittens, sometimes more. Cats usually have a heat cycle 2 x a year, some cats go right back into heat after weaning their kittens meaning they can potentially have 4 litters a year.

Lets do the math:

4 litters a year

5 kittens a litter

kittens going into heat at 6 months

Okay, lets not. That's a lot of cats.

I have some more math for you though. Lorie Prestes at the McCook Humane Society said Thursday on KICX radio that there are 19 feral cat colonies in McCook. Each colony has an average of 50 cats. 50 x 19 would be 950 feral cats. If half of those colonies had 100 cats, that would 1425 cats. No wonder we're having problems.

What other problems are there with feral cat populations?

There are more than 90 million pet cats in the U.S., the majority of which roam outside at least part of the time. In addition, millions of stray and feral cats roam our cities, suburbs, and rural areas. Scientists estimate that free-roaming cats kill hundreds of millions of birds, small mammals, reptiles and amphibians each year. Cat predation is an added stress to wildlife populations already struggling to survive habitat loss, pollution, pesticides, and other human impacts. -- American Bird Conservancy

Lastly, feral cats contribute to the spreading FLEA populations. I can almost guarantee that most of the fleas that travel around our community use feral cats as taxi cabs. You think cats multiply quickly, wait until you see how quickly fleas multiply. Female fleas can start laying eggs 20-24 hours after taking their first blood meal. Eggs hatch in 21 to 35 days, adults can emerge in as little as 13 days and can be delayed as long as 50 weeks. Female fleas can produce 40-50 eggs a day. -- Companion Animal Parasite Council http://www.capcvet.org/recommendations/f... How about those apples?

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Amy, I have some more math. The population of the UK is 60 million, the US 305 million. Land area in the UK- 95,000 sq miles, the US- 3.8 million square miles.

It doesn't supprise me at all we have more feral cats given the huge difference in population and and especially land area. One thing I always enjoy is how people will align their shoddy statistics up to prove a point to an unsuspecting citizen.

I do however agree that we have a tremendous feral cat problem that needs addressed quickly. I am supporting the new ordinances as long as all McCook citizens are paying, not juts pet owners and we have more control over the Humane Society, as it does our taxpaying community no good to take in large loads of animals from other areas only to have to turn away animals from our area because it's full. then you wonder why these animals end up on the streets.

I hate turning animals away as much as you and can't stand to see them suffer, but can't be respponsible for everyone. At this point I think we need to focus on and solve our own problems before we go helping everyone else at taxpayer's expense.

-- Posted by Justin76 on Mon, Aug 17, 2009, at 12:17 PM

Hi Amy,

Been following the stories about all the cats.So sad.Everyone has to come together to get this problem solved.Have missed your blogs,You always have something very interesting.

Bitsi,still here and now 16 yrs old.Still a real sweetheart.When she is gone , we will be back.

Where we live on the lake , have no cat problems as the gators get them. Most people here keep their animals inside.Lois

-- Posted by jonlo34788@yahoo.com on Mon, Aug 17, 2009, at 3:03 PM

Amy, you are saying things that really confuse me. If the great threat from feral and/or stray cats is that they are going to spread disease to cats who have owners, why are we owners vaccinating our cats? You mention feline leukemia--that's one of the vaccines my vet gives to my cats. Also, both my cats and dogs get rabies vaccines. I always treat all my animals for fleas and ticks. So now what are the odds that a feral cat is endangering one of my animals?

I did a little research. Rabies is most often transmitted to humans through bat bites, or dog bites. How often in the whole of the United States in the last 10 years, has rabies been transmitted to a human through a cat bite?

I think a discussion on how other cities/towns have dealt with feral cats would serve our community much better than Chicken Little scare tactics. I've read that just killing the animals does nothing to control the population. As long as there are food sources and a couple of unaltered cats out there, there will be feral cats. Trap, neuter and return appears to be the only way to control the feral cat population.

To hear you talk, our town is being overrun by vicious, people and cat killing cats. Did you ever consider that feral cats actually serve as a barrier to disease--by killing rodents?

-- Posted by Grandma B on Mon, Aug 17, 2009, at 3:10 PM

Grandma B, you mention that "I always treat all my animals for fleas and ticks" and get them vaccinated at the vet. Unfortunately, not everyone does and it is a State Law already to have all animals get rabie shots. This ordinance will just keep the pet owners honest about getting their pets vaccinated properly. Hopefully, they'll step up and treat them better also. Yes, we do have a feral cat population and it does more harm that just rabies and other diseases. They do structural damage also. I've had feral cats pee on my front door, and climb and scratch my vehicles. They aren't nice and need to gotten rid of. Do they take care of the rodents? Possibly, but I don't need a mean, pissing cat taking care of them. There are other safer methods.

-- Posted by Rural Citizen on Mon, Aug 17, 2009, at 4:18 PM

Grandma B, I'm not trying to use scare tactics, just trying to keep people informed because ignorance is not bliss.

Justin76, I'll get you statistics on how many strays and surrenders come to the Humane Society from McCook vs the other little towns they serve. I can bring it to the City Council meeting tonight if anybody would like a look at it. The Humane Society serves a 90 mile radius surrounding McCook because the closest Humane Societies would be Kearney, Hasting, North Platte and Norton KS, some but not all are not as reliable about taking care of pets as Lorie and the crew here in town.

Lois, good to here from you. Thanks for reading.

Everybody who reads and posts comments, keep commenting, I enjoy your thoughts on the subject.

-- Posted by amystrauch on Mon, Aug 17, 2009, at 4:47 PM

Okay Justin76,

here are those stats I promised you. In 2008, the McCook Humane Society took in 1188 animals, 224 of which were strays. 755 came from McCook. Every other town in that 90 mile radius was less than 50 with the exception of Indianola at 67. Oberlin came close at 49. I don't get the yearly breakdown of communities and counties until the end of the year which is why I don't have a year to date for this year. You remember those animals that came from the kennel in Lexington? The HS only took in 11 animals.

Hope that helps.

-- Posted by amystrauch on Mon, Aug 17, 2009, at 6:16 PM

better kitties than mice ann rats

-- Posted by Dick on Mon, Aug 17, 2009, at 9:33 PM

Cool. You did more homework and did visit more sites!

-- Posted by theTRUTHaboutTNR on Wed, Aug 19, 2009, at 12:57 AM

Bottom line is that we need to do something about the feral cats. It's not a joke and it cannot be set aside any longer.

-- Posted by Rural Citizen on Wed, Aug 19, 2009, at 11:32 AM

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