Feral Cats: What Do They Eat, Anyhow?

Reply Mon 5 Apr, 2004 06:59 pm
I do not see the same problem with feeding any wild animal that some do. I also see a vast difference between a homeless cat and a true feral. Ferals do not like people at all and are very reluctant to come close enough to be noticed to take food. They are adult cats that will attack before they let you within ten feet of them. The wild, but homeless differ. The will allow you close and to touch them after gaining trust. I see this as somewhere in the middle of a house cat and true feral.

Nature can and does dictate reproduction cycles of animals, even same species true feral vs. wild acting homeless cat. Even with healthy housecats, most never give birth during winter months. I cannot justify not feeding any wild animal, birds, squirrels, opossums, raccoons, or a true feral cat.

There was a cat that was a bit on the wild side that about five neighbors fed. We all liked him. He wasn't nearly as tame as a house cat, but nothing at all like a true feral either. He would let you near him, but was never as tame as a cared for house cat would ever be, but nothing like the wild in a true feral either. He was in between!

The true ferals we fed at work could never be caught and would never let you near them without attacking you. The injured male, everyone tried to entice him into a cage trap to have his wound cared for. It didn't work. They had one litter of kittens in two years, although male and female traveled together always.

I see three distinct types of cats described in this thread.

TYPE #1: There is no possible hope of taming the true adult feral to allow you to be within ten feet of them without attack. They cannot be caught. Anything enticing, like yummy food, yet enclosing, is fearful to them. You cannot catch a true ferril unless you are extremely skilled or shoot them.

TYPE # 2: Our wild cat visited everyone looking for a handout. He had four different 'homes'. He never accepted being kept indoors. He was not a tame house cat and never would be. It was difficult to entice him inside a house, but it could be done and was. He was wild acting, but would allow you to be near him or touch him, if he did not feel threatened. Agreed, it doesn't cost that much to have an animal like this one altered and is worth every penny spent. You can catch these cats.

TYPE #3: Then we go to a spoiled rotten house cat, like mine, that does not have her natural instincts developed, only because she never had to. Under different conditions, she could be as wild as any true feral cat.

I believe there is a vast gray area with cats. They are highly adaptable animals with very high ranking on the food chain. I also believe that humans rank so much higher on that same chain that they have seriously endangered and extinct many life forms, animal or plant.

I will never feel that I did the not do the right thing by throwing food scraps to opossums and raccoons, which would otherwise be completely wasted and using up landfill space when needed by another living creature, food to live. I do not believe wildlife population should be reduced to accommodate human wants, not needs.

Many new subdivisions are built all over the country that was once land that many species of animals used. The trees and other vegetation once fully supported life of a raccoon and opossum. Subdividing nature is short of strip mining for human pleasure, in my opinion. The once wooded land of many plants and animals is reduced to something that looks like a golf course with structures that people live in.

What do we really do with our yards, but mow grass and put a few flowerbeds in? Nothing! What did we take for this? We took a huge mortgage to own a plot of land with a house to live in, when all we really need is a simple apartment, not a huge yard that we don't use. We can afford it, so we buy it. Then we have the nerve to say that wildlife is overpopulated?

I say humans are over populated! We are takers, not givers. Our mortgage payment gives us the right to allow another life to starve??? Give me a break! How would any of you like death by starvation? I am quite sure it isn't pleasant. It does seem ok to literally starve another life, but not your own, right?
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Reply Mon 5 Apr, 2004 08:54 pm
Hmmm. School cat was very feral when I first saw him as an older kitten. And then, yes he moved up or over to wild/homeless/will eat, based on neighborhood attention over years. Not weeks, years between my first sight of him and being able to comb his coat...
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Reply Mon 5 Apr, 2004 08:57 pm
Still, instead of arguing, I am interested in your distinctions.
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Reply Mon 5 Apr, 2004 11:31 pm
Ummmmm.......I thought I clearly made distinctions in definition between a clear feral cat, stray that can be somewhat tamed, and a spoiled rotten house cat, which wont get off my lap right at the moment thinking she needs attention.

What is it specifically that you ask? I adore animals and wont be offended by any question.
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Reply Mon 5 Apr, 2004 11:41 pm
Well.... schoolcat, for example, hissed when I approached with cat food. After six months or so of that, he hissed when I scratched his head. Quite the opposite of a purr, a fairly violent hiss. What a darling!
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Reply Wed 7 Apr, 2004 02:45 am
I would guess my explanation to that question is the fact that cats and people are various shades of gray. We don't fall into a singular category. I would lay cash on it that Mother Theresa was far less than perfect. I would also be willing to bet that the most horrible criminal on death row has good in them as well as overwhelming bad.

I understand what you are talking about by taming a feral cat. That is how my brother and I, very cheerfully, got our first pets. Unfortunately, our neighbors thought cats only belonged in barns and shot at them and beat them, if they could catch them.

I'm from Kentucky and grew up in a cheap, blue collar, cookie cutter subdivision with an attached trailer park. That should explain all!! lol! But, I don't find any type of animal cruelty acceptable at all. I never found my horrible neighbor's behavior towards a cat acceptable as a grade school child either. People can be so ignorant and self indulgent, it is unimaginable to me.

There were two, I am guessing, sister cats. The were both solid black and traveled together. My mother was always fearful of cats. My brother and I were only in grade school at the time. Given that there were surrounding woods around the subdivision and the hillbilly mentality of our neighbors, my mom felt sorry for these cats she saw. She gave them food and chocolate milk. She didn't know cats don't tolerate milk all too well, but this would have otherwise gone to waste. She thought the cats, traveling in pairs liked the chocolate milk and kept giving it to them. In truth, I have seen true ferals eat anything. They are far from picky like my spoiled rotten house cat.

Given the mentality of the neighbors, these cats were probably considered feral. Each had a litter of four kittens one week apart in the spring under a gap in our cement porch. This is where I have to question what any human mother would do to feed their child. Probably the exact same thing as these two wild cats did, accept the unacceptable to provide for their young.

My parents eventually coaxed these females, with kittens to our garage. My dad left it open just enough to get a cat in without appearing to be left open. With food placed there, they did bring their kittens themselves, where my parents had cardboard boxes with old towels for comfort. They did bring their kittens close to food and shelter. They also allowed us to touch them. They would not ever allow us to bring them in the house without completely flipping out.

From their behavior, I feel that these adult females did have human contact at some point in time, but were dumped, as many morons will do with an animal they do not want. They eventually did allow us to touch them and their kittens, which my brother and I were thrilled with. What choice did they really have? They had food and shelter for their young. Instinct tells us all to provide for our young, even if at our expense, which these females did.

I strongly feel these female cats my mother fed were an in between of true feral and abandon cats that did have human contact at some point in life.

True ferals will never allow you to get close to them or their young without attack. You have to question an animals history. Do you honestly think a true feral cat would ever allow you contact without attack? I seriously doubt it. Only a cat that has had previous human contact, but was forced for a duration of time, will act wild and allow human contact at all.

These cats were a neighborhood disaster for our family. My parents tried very hard to find homes for these kittens without much luck. There were eight of them, not counting two adult female mother cats. My parents tried very hard to defend these lives, but lost that battle. The police were called several times for acts of our neighbors trying to actually kill them. They were also collected and paid by adults to kids to collect these kittens to be dumped on the side of the road.

I was the one who walked by and saw our kittens in our neighbor's pick up truck. Again, my dad called the police, who didn't do a thing to help up, only threaten my mother for disorderly conduct arrest because she demanded that law be enforced. Who cares about cats or what happens to them? No one did, no even law enforcement, which we all pay taxes to insure law is enforced.

I was just a grade school kid at the time. My dad had enough of this. Even the police wouldn't help them protect their claimed pets. I found one of our kittens beaten badly and brought it home. My dad had seen enough and took all, with exception of our favorite kitten, with one missing, to the animal shelter hoping they would have a better life than what they could offer. All this hatred between neighbors over cats. Hard to believe, but very true.

We kept the kitten our parents allowed us to, but one was severely beaten and one was missing. Our missing kitten came back alive and healthy. They were loved and cared for until death. Luckily, my dad was a phone man, who met many people. He actually went to the doorstep of a judge who's phone he fixed explaining our problem.

You can only imagine how thrilled we all were when my dad took all but one missing kitten, assumed dead, showing up at home. We never had any pets before this. Only dogs were acceptable in our neighborhood, at that time. I don't know what ever happened to these mother cats or the rest of the kittens. I do know that we had very much loved pets.

It all started with feeding hungry animals. It ended up with great love for life of any animal. My parents, to this day, put leftovers for opossums and raccoons. So do I. It is the right thing to do. My family fought very hard opposition to feeding a hungry animal that only wishes to survive.

Well, that's my story!!
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Reply Fri 9 Jul, 2004 07:33 am
d'Artagnan -

Years ago when my kids were children, they found two kittens in our yard. We couldn't find a "mom" kitty anywhere, so we brought them inside and kept them as pets. One became the one of the friendliest pets we'd ever had, while the other never really warmed up to us, ran when we came near her and had a "wild" nature about her.

I think some animals are just not able to be domesticated. It's just not a part of their personality. Like some people, some animals can be "tamed" and others apparently cannot.

We loved them just the same though!

Over the years we've always had a tribe of pet house cats, as well as always having "outside kitties" who just cruise the neighborhood looking for a good dinner, which I always provide. I learned from our two kittens/two personalities experience that these kitties probably don't want to be pets, and enjoy carousing outside with their buddies. They're happy that way.

Last summer, however, one was sitting on our front porch with a nasty gash on his neck and was gasping, very sick. I took him to the kitty rescue because this one had been someone's pet who had moved and left the cat behind (nice folks, huh?) and had been living on the streets for months (we'd just moved into this house and I learned his story from one of the neighbors.) The rescue took him to the vet, patched him up and now he's someone's house pet, a spoiled little king of the castle named "Spike." Apparently Spike was able to be wild when he needed to be for survival purposes, but when someone extended a long-term relationship offer to him, he was satisfied being a house pet again as well. So resilient!

Just wanted to share our experience.

I try to keep the "outside kitties" fed and happy, but I don't expect them to be very sociable. Now that I think of it, the same applied to my first husband. Rolling Eyes
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Reply Fri 9 Jul, 2004 09:54 am
Sue, thanks for your story. I agree re the idea that there are inherent personality differences in cats (as in people) that can make a big difference in socialization. I think I could've done a better job with my cat in terms of trying to make her more comfortable around me (and other humans), but she tended to be shy and scared from the very beginning, when her sibling, also feral, was clearly more adventurous...
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Steve 41oo
Reply Fri 9 Jul, 2004 10:00 am
Feral cats
Live on scraps
But Federal cats
Survive on tax
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Reply Sat 17 Jul, 2004 07:55 pm
Sue, I can identify with your story! I forgot and am way too lazy to read what I posted a long time ago.

My mom felt sorry for two feral cats. They really didn't want to come near you, but accepted food quick enough. My brother and I were just kids.

These were female cats, who would flip out trying to even get them in the house for shelter against the weather. They just wouldn't do it at all. They preferred living under our porch, where there was a gap in concrete, not a warm house.

They both had kittens, one week apart. My dad managed to get the Mom cats into our garage, by tempting them with food. He put boxes and blankets for them and their kittens. As wild as these females were, they needed food so their kittens would survive.

Picture what two grade school kids are going to do! My dad warned us over and over not to bother the female cats and their kittens since he had to tempt them to shelter with food. In those days, you risked a belt to your butt for not listening to your father.

Try keeping two grade school kids away completely from kittens! We couldn't and didn't, but not to the point that they were fearful and moved their kittens, because we knew our dad would bust our butts doing something like that.

Our contact was limited. We were allowed sometimes, but the rest of the time, we had to sneak to see the kittens that we were drawn to. This was for the best and I hope that they got good homes. I know for fact that three of the eight did get fantastic homes.

Because we had to sneak and our presence was gradual, the kittens were very friendly, all of them. Unfortunately, I lived in a hillbilly neighborhood where no one owned cats and they were shot at and one was close to death. This is when my father took them to the pound, to save them.

Given where I lived and the ignorance, these cats didn't have a fighting chance. I know that the mothers were not adoptable and probably put down. The kittens got so used to human contact, but were not beauties, just black and white kittens, which I am partial to still.

I really don't think it matters whether you are a cat or a person. Some of us have the cards stacked against us from day one, as these Mom cats did. Others have great advantage in life, just as the two cats we kept and the one we found a home for. The rest of us are somewhere in the middle.

Life just isn't all too fair to cats or people...
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