Thursday, 3 November 2016

Feral cats

There are always feral cats around here.   There is a long-haired white and black tom who is often seen running across the farmyard - Tess always chases him off - and who, I suspect, eats the cat food we put down for our two farm cats, Blackie and Creamy, if they happen to be out somewhere when it is put down.

Our two farm cats came from another farm and were from feral stock.   Blackie has got fairly tame but Creamy will not come near enough to be stroked.

Yesterday the white and black cat ran across the lane in front of my car as I drove home from town.
When I mentioned this to the farmer last evening he says he suspects that this cat has fathered a litter of lookalikes as there are now five or six half grown white and black kitten/cats roaming the fields, as well as a couple of ancient ginger ones.

I worry about what becomes of them in the very cold weather, but as the farmer says - they have never been pets, they have no concept of home life in front of the fire - they were born to live outside, scavenge for their food and find somewhere warm to sleep on cold nights.   After all, there are plenty of barns full of straw or hay about round here and I am sure these cats are nothing if not opportunists.

Do you have feral cats?   Are they present in  towns as well as in the country?   Does anyone feed them?

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32 comments:

Tom Stephenson said...

We found a huge colony of feral cats under a massive tree in Malaga town this year. They are fenced off with the tree, and loll around with their kittens as a side-show. I took them some uneaten whitebait from a nearby restaurant, then noticed that everyone leaves piles of cat-food on traysplus bowls of water which they push through the bars. Happy pussies!

Midmarsh John said...

Goodness me, yes. When I lived in Grimsby, next to the cemetery, they could be heard at night. Here in the village there are several which are out all night and go from house to house for free food. I used have a cat many years ago and don't dislike them as such but hate the way they use my flower bed as their toilet area, digging it up and leaving a half covered mess for the unsuspecting gardener.

Morning's Minion said...

In every place we've lived--we are country dwellers--there have been feral cats. There are the battered and wily Toms who snatch at food, anoint the porch posts with their distinctive scent, the pitiful mom-cats in various stages of pregnancy, the forlorn kittens who have been 'dropped off' or have wandered in.
My heart always yearns over the plight of these animals. I've fed many of them, we've adopted and tamed kittens. Too often, though, I've found the body of a recognized visitor in the road.
I can't rescue them all. I appreciate cats and I have fed strays, but I also know that they can bring disease to my 'barn cats' who are spayed/neutered, cared for. A disheartening situation all around.

Derek Faulkner said...

Oh dear, you've hit on one of my worst hates - cats, and even worse, feral cats! One of the worse and persistent killers of wildlife in towns and countryside. I have to admit that if the rare opportunity arises then my terriers will kill feral cats. Dogs have to be licensed, have to be micro-chipped, are not allowed to shit in the street, are not allowed to roam freely in other peoples property and yet cat owners encourage their moggies to roam free every night as a wild animal, killing things, shitting in other people's gardens and yet kick up if other people treat them as wild animals, like foxes.

Bovey Belle said...

Gosh Derek, I'm glad you're not one of my neighbours, as I fear we wouldn't get on.

I live in a very rural area and we seem to be cat central for stray and feral cats, and we have taken many under our wing, neutering them and caring for them and they have rewarded us with their love. Like Morning's Minion, my fellow cat-lover, we see a fair few wild cats - some on their way through, some who take up residence on the farm next door, and some who stay. Then there are the poor waifs who have been dumped by some town-dweller who abdicates their responsibility. We've taken in several of those too.

angryparsnip said...

Derek and I have the same views.
Where I live there are no feral cats because the coyotes, mountain lions and bobcats eat them. I think anyone who lets cats run free should be fined. I am talking about city and town cats, not farmers who need them .
We have a program at the HSSA that people can catch feral cats and then they get fixed and then given as many vaccinations as they can. This is usually the only time they will see a vet. they are then returned to where they were found.
I read a report from the UK years ago that between the French farmers who shoot birds to the people who let their cats run free the amount of birds being killed has grown horribly as the insect population grows.
Dogs have to be chipped, licensed and vaccinated. Cats just roam free.
Son has just adopted two older cats. They will be inside cats only. But we are building in my side yard a secure area that they can go outside and enjoy the sights and sounds. Several of my friend who have cats have done this.
Feral cats lead such a horrible life and yet people discard cats and dogs like trash.

cheers, parsnip

Derek Faulkner said...

Do your cats stay purely on your property Bovey, if they do, then we would get on and I would consider you a good and responsible neighbour.

Joanne Noragon said...

In the thirty years I lived in the "semi-country" I watched attitudes change about dogs, which no longer ran free, and outdoor cats dwindled in number, too. I define outdoor as a cat that has a home to go to, and does, most nights. When we had outdoor cats, the mice and chipmunk populations were kept down. For all I love chipmunks, the are destructive little buggers. Now here in the mobile home park, I have come to know a white and black, a ginger, and now a tabby by sight. They seem well enough fed, but their presence is enough to keep me from feeding birds this year, until I get a better sense of their habits.

Simon Douglas Thompson said...

Love cats always will...no feral cats in town where I live, there will be loads on the farms I'm sure.

Librarian said...

Here in Germany, feral cats are a problem in many cities. They live the most miserable life and often are the offspring of former pet cats who were abandoned by their irresponsible owners. There are numerous privately funded initiatives to catch as many as possible, have them neutered and vaccined, and either find homes for them or take them back to where they were found, but at least without the risk of them further reproducing.
Animal protection societies are constantly trying to get the authorities to issue laws like the ones that exist for dog owners, but so far, only a handful of big cities have actually put such regulations for cats (or, rather, their owners) in force.

How anyone can hate cats (or dogs) is beyond me. I don't hate any animal - I may like some more than others, and will never be particularly fond of spiders (for instance), but I don't hate any animal. It has just the same right to live on this planet than I do.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Our two farm cats never come into the house (Blackie will come in at night if the door is open and go and stand by the fridge for milk, but he likes the door left open). We feed them biscuits, milk and cat food every day. When they first came we shut them into the barn for a fortnight (they were kittens and the farm where they lived had caught them and brought them to us). We took both to be vaccinated and neutered. They are now eleven years old, plump, shiny-coated and healthy - and are brilliant at catching rabbits, which is why we got them in the first place.

Thanks for your views.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

There are no feral cats that I know of in Sheffield 11 though our last cat - Boris, arrived in our garden as a stray and stayed for ten years. One night he never came home and we don't know what happened to him. I felt very sad about this.
P.S. In some politically correct quarters the name Blackie would be judged inappropriate. Can't you change that cat's name to Martin... if it is male - after Martin Luther King.

Bovey Belle said...

Derek - our cats roam freely, as cats will do given half a chance. That is the way cats are. We do have 5 1/2 acres of our own land though and are surrounded by farmland and woodland. Apart from the farm next door, the nearest property is over 1/4 mile away and they don't bother anyone. In fact, I dare say next door farmer is grateful to having any rats on his property killed by my cats - or ones passing through. The joy of real country living.

Ours catch rabbits too. Hardly ever a bird, but plenty of squeaky voles from the fields about us. Once of twice, a squirrel has been left on the kitchen floor!

Derek Faulkner said...

Bovey, you've used the stock answer that cat owners always come up with as some kind of excuse, cats roam freely, that's what cats do. And when they do they basically become wild and predate other animals and huge quantities of songbirds, so why shouldn't they be treated as wild animals. If my dogs were found worrying/attacking sheep the farmer would be entitled to shoot them, shoot a cat found repeatedly killing nests of birds, well away from it's home and you break the law.

donna baker said...

Derek, humans kill off more wildlife than cats. Buildings, windows and power lines kill more birds than cats. I had a huge feral cat community on my farm. They reproduced faster than I could get them spayed and neutered. I finally got them on birth control. Seems that they only need a grain, the size of a piece of sand, of progesterone to mess their fertility cycles up. It worked wonderfully for three years. All my house cats came from feral stock and I've loved them all, even Mean Mom who tried to scratch out my eyes by slapping my glasses off. The day I got her fixed, she was talking and purring and rubbing on my legs.

jinxxxygirl said...

No feral cats around here Pat... And even in CA when we lived in the housing development i don't think the cats that came to my yard were feral... I think they belonged to someone who did not keep them as house cats and just let them roam... Those people really frustrate me... Their cats do their 'business' in MY flower beds then go back to their home to eat... They sit around MY bird feeder and hunt MY wild birds...then go back to their home for cat food... No i'am not fond of people that let their cats roam... My cat is inside and bothers no one but me. Now feral cats that have no owner are a different story... I would tend to try to trap them and take them to the appropriate services.. Hugs! deb

jinxxxygirl said...

YP

You seriously want Pat to change her cats name from Blackie because it might .. MIGHT offend someone... I swear these days the whole world seems to be apologizing for breathing........!

Robin Mac said...

Feral cats pose the most enormous problem in Australia - there are thousands of them in the outback and they are killing off the smaller native animals and birds almost to the point of extinction. I wish we could exterminate all of them.

Penny said...

I like cats but not feral ones, as Robin says we have a terrible problem here in Oz, my cat is an indoor one so he doesn't predate on my small birds in the garden, and he doesn't get killed by a snake. Unfortunately we have renting neighbour's who have cats, leave and their cats stay behind. Not at all responsible.

Heather said...

I don't know of any feral cats but I am sure the farmer is right when he says they are used to living outside and fending for themselves. We don't live near any farms, but I am sure they have feral cats and are pleased for them to keep mice and rats at bay. I daresay there are ferals in large towns and cities too, doing the same job.

Derek Faulkner said...

In answer to donna baker - according to the Daily Mail, cats kill 275 million other animals each year in this country.

Helsie said...

I'm with Derek on this. Hate feral cats with a passion! there are so many of them and they have done such huge damage to our wild life here in Australia that the Army are called in at times to do a night time cull . They shoot thousands of them.

Helsie said...

PS. Neutered farm cats are a whole different animal. Like the difference between working dogs and pets to farm people - some live inside with the family and some don't !

Cro Magnon said...

I suspect someone had emptied a sackful of Siamese cats into the woods nearby, as we used to see them regularly. I think they've all died off now as I haven't seen one for ages. They lived in the woods for several years.

thelma said...

Think I will remain quiet on this, feral cats are a nuisance, one of my memories as a child holidaying on a Welsh farm, was the latest batch of kittens being drowned in a bucket which obviously upset me. Birth control seems to be the answer, something like they do to town pigeons.

Beverley said...

We had a feral cat visiting our cat in the garden. I think he fancied her. that winter was cold and long, so I let my children feed him one meal a day. The following summer, he used to watch me gardening, and I talked to him. Then he had titbits at BBQs from us. Suddenly in the Sept, he had a fuss from me, and moved in the next day! We had him neutered and immunized. Turned out to be one of the most gentle cats I have ever had. He never scratches or bites and loves a tummy rub. Sadly he still catches rodents at times.

Countryside Tales said...

We have them here. a lone female turned up a couple of summers ago in the neighbour's yard, this summer there were 26 of them. It's a massive problem for wildlife. All the voles have gone from our garden. We tried the cats protection league, the council, the RSPB, no one was interested in helping remove them.

Mrs LH said...

There are colonies of ferals in Sheffield! Friends of Ferals operate in Sheffield (they have a Facebook page) and are a voluntary charity who implement the TNR scheme and care /foster and rehabilitate. They are full to bursting with cats.

The Weaver of Grass said...

YP - they came with the names Blackie and Creamy because that is what colour they are. They are not offended by ther names obviously. We have no need of political correctness.

Such interesting views in these comments - and such a lot of them. I seem to have
stirred up a hornet's nest. All I can say is that our two cats are definitely not feral - they wander around the farm, catch rabbits (for which we thank them as we have so many - and remember ten rabbits eat as much grass as one cow)

As for the feral cats which visit us from time to time - mainly to eat the cat food we put down for our two and also, I suspect, to sleep on the hay in the barn in really cold weather - well out in the country as we are they cause us little concern. I am sure it is a totally different problem in towns and even in villages.

Thanks everyone for joining in.

Mrs LH said...

My cat, who I hand reared, is an ex-feral.Most are just abandoned un-neutered cats, discarded by humans. Feral cats only live on average for 2 years due to their horrendous quality of life. My cat never leaves our garden, stays in at night and is very loyal in her own way but wary of all humans. To let your dog intentionally kill a cat is disgusting. I am glad I don't know "Derek Faulkner" , I would have to report him.

Terry and Linda said...

I have a feral cat now. She is delightful! She loves to be in the shop and barns, but also comes in to have a nap by the fireplace.

Linda

Rachel said...

When I was in St Petersburg 4 years ago there were many feral cats in the neighbourhood; my landlady fed a dozen or so each day and she had tamed 3 to live with her in her apartment where I stayed. I have photos of her with her cats and they were all beautiful but mostly would not come near. This was all within 10 minutes of The Hermitage. We do not see feral cats around here although my four turned up when their mother gave birth to them under our weighbridge office within inches of artics weighing each day. My brother and I took them in and have the five between us.