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Feral Cats: What Do They Eat, Anyhow?

 
 
Reply Fri 3 Oct, 2003 01:16 pm
There's a reasonably steady population of feral cats who frequent my back yard. Having adopted one of their kittens two years ago, I feel I've done my bit in terms of looking after them.

Yesterday I saw a dead rodent in the yard, an obvious victim of cat violence. This is fine with me--only I can't figure out why it was left out there for hours. I finally disposed of it. Why would they kill the mouse, then leave it out there to rot? I know they enjoy the hunt, but they always seem hungry. Why they didn't they chow down?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 7,804 • Replies: 49
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roger
 
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Reply Fri 3 Oct, 2003 02:02 pm
The feral cats at work get Meow Mix Monday thru Friday. Weekends it's back to bugs and other small game. The one I adopted gets IAMS 7 days a week.

I dun'no, D'artagnan. If they were as hungry as they look, I would think they would eat it too. Feral cats are as playfull as their domesticated brethren. They will chase anything that doesn't chase them, and unlike dogs, well hung game doesn't suit their palette.
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Dartagnan
 
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Reply Fri 3 Oct, 2003 02:05 pm
I do wonder, Roger, if someone is feeding these critters. They seem to survive, though the turnover from year to year is significant. For them, I guess, life is nasty, brutish, short--though maybe someone is helping make it less so.
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cavfancier
 
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Reply Fri 3 Oct, 2003 02:10 pm
I think feral cats, and cats in general, are opportunistic, and quite possibly visit several feeding grounds per day, eating whatever is there, or whatever is offered to them. Feral children on the other hand, are more complicated, and names are in short supply beyond 'Tarzan' once you adopt them.
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Dartagnan
 
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Reply Fri 3 Oct, 2003 02:20 pm
A friend of mine, who considers himself quite the wag, was amused by my use of the term "feral cats." He wondered if I shouldn't refer to the homeless as "feral people."

I suppose I could start calling the critters "homeless cats." It has a poignant ring, doesn't it?
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roger
 
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Reply Fri 3 Oct, 2003 02:43 pm
Ours sometimes disappear for a week or more at a time, so they are probably visiting several soup kitchens. At one time we had five adults and I was feeding them twice a day. I cut it back to once a day, hoping they would get off the dole and gain some self respect. Well, now there are two cats and one kitten. I sincerely hope the missing three adults have found steady employment.

The most recent litter hat 5 kits, and it looks like only one survived. It's a rough life, but believe me, each had the opportunity for homes. They indicated that they preferred their freedom. The one I adopted only presented himself after severly injuring a leg. That's Barney, and he's still with me.
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cavfancier
 
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Reply Fri 3 Oct, 2003 02:44 pm
Laughing I like that term...homeless cats...but I also like feral people for the homeless. Dagnabbit...too much political correctness killed my 'New Signs for the Homeless' thread, but I do think "I'm not homeless, I'm feral" would be great.

I would think that any 'homeless cat' could be domesticated. I dunno....food, shelter, some discipline, animals are only 'feral' really when they need to be. Even lions nap incessantly after a good feed.
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Dartagnan
 
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Reply Fri 3 Oct, 2003 02:46 pm
The one I adopted is not allowed outdoors. I know this pains her--she sees her feral peers disporting themselves and probably thinks that I'm a cruel jailer. But, of course, I'm doing this for her own good.

This is probably a metaphor for something, but I leave it to others to sort it out...
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roger
 
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Reply Fri 3 Oct, 2003 02:54 pm
Me too. Barney is also a prisoner.
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Dartagnan
 
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Reply Fri 3 Oct, 2003 03:18 pm
Those feral cats play rough. A do the possums and coons that visit the yard from time to time...

"You'll thank me for this some day, Winifred."
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Dartagnan
 
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Reply Thu 9 Oct, 2003 01:14 pm
Spotted another slain rodent in the yard two days ago, and this one I let stay where it was. Went out there yesterday, and it was gone. The cats must be adjusting to the cooler weather and chowing down when the getting is good.

I also saw a mass of bird feathers in the yard recently. This I wasn't so pleased about!
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quinn1
 
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Reply Thu 9 Oct, 2003 04:27 pm
Are you sure the rodents arent being left as honored gifts and someone else cleaned up the last one?

Mine are jailed as well, it really is for their own good, they are much happier, healthier and I really think they know it somehow.
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Dartagnan
 
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Reply Thu 9 Oct, 2003 04:34 pm
If some other person is cleaning my yard, I'd be amazed. It's unlikely. Whatever is being accomplished back there, albeit little, is being done by me (or the cats)...

I'm just glad I don't have one of those outdoor cats who drags in its kill. I'd just as soon as encounter dead critters in the great outdoors!
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quinn1
 
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Reply Thu 9 Oct, 2003 04:48 pm
Maybe one of the ferals wants to give you gifts and another is coming along and eating it? Smile
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Dartagnan
 
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Reply Thu 9 Oct, 2003 04:51 pm
Could be, quinn1. I tend not to distinguish between the ferals too much, except to note various color patterns. Just to muddy the waters a little, there are some house cats out there sometimes, but they're easy to pick out. Plumper and healthier, and they don't scoot when I get too close...
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cjhsa
 
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Reply Thu 9 Oct, 2003 04:56 pm
Wild (feral) cats can be nasty. They'll kill anything they can find, and severly disrupt local wildlife populations. The only positive is that they will likely reduce mice and rat numbers.

I was hunting with my dad once years ago and he shot what we both thought was a rabbit. Turned out to be a wild (house) cat, likely raised in the wild, This thing had incisors that looked like a sabretooth tiger. Very strange.
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Dartagnan
 
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Reply Thu 9 Oct, 2003 04:58 pm
Agreed, cjhsa, though I haven't got closely enough to one to check out the teeth. When a friend helped me capture the ones we adopted, she set a wildlife trap to bring them in. The kind where the cat goes for the food, springing the lid shut on a cage. Anyhow, she caught another feral cat by accident and we had to let it out. I still remember that snarl!
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Wildflower63
 
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Reply Wed 11 Feb, 2004 02:09 pm
We had feral cats where I worked. I wouldn't exactly call these guys homeless. If they were in an animal shelter, they would be completely unadoptable. They wouldn't let people near them and would get aggressive if you got too close. We were successful at getting one singular kitten that ran with mom and dad tame enough that someone did take him in, not the rest.

These cats were always hungry also. We gave them leftover food. I worked in a hospital. They loved every bit of meat our patients wasted, but would even eat vegetables and sweets. This also attracted the rest of wildlife! Year after year we fed these cats. I'm sure that they probably have intestinal parasites making them act starving all the time since they shared everything they ate with worms and who knows what in their gut.

One time, we noticed that the male has a terrible injury on his neck. One of my co-workers offered to pay the vet expense to get him antibiotics and stitched back up. After a few years, you get attached to them, even if they would never let us close, ever. No one could trap this cat. Time went on, and his neck wound healed without intervention.

I would have to guess that cats are pretty tough animals. These did not wish to be around people, just the food we offered them. Year after year, they were around. They didn't act a thing like your average house cat. They were wild. I think that type of behavior differentiates a homeless cat from a feril. Homeless cats will let you pet them, ferils will attack you first.
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roger
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Feb, 2004 02:23 pm
I have one out there that will let me pet it while it is eating. Sure would make a good housecat if I could only find it a home. I have three, so there's no chance of it moving in with me. Yeah, the rest are unadoptable.
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Dartagnan
 
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Reply Wed 11 Feb, 2004 02:43 pm
As I may have mentioned earlier in this thread (I'm too lazy to look), I have a formerly feral cat living with me. I adopted her when she was still a kitten, and she's never really warmed up to me. Will eat a treat out of my hand, but that's as close as she wants to get. Seems comfortable in my presence, as long as I don't get too close. And she hides whenever I have another human in the house.

There's now only one feral I notice lurking outside. There have been more in the past, but the winter probably takes its toll. I don't encourage this one--I've seen enough dead songbirds to take a hands-off approach to supporting the feral population.
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