By definition, a feral cat is a cat that is not owned and exists in the wild. They are also known as free-ranging cats. A feral cat is born in the wild or enters the wild after birth. They can exist completely unaided by humans or they may be members “cat-colonies” receiving varying levels of care and food from humans.
There are over 77 million pet cats nationwide with about 43 million spending some time outside. It is estimated that there are 60 to 100 million homeless stray and feral cats. They are now becoming a common feature in our parks and other wild lands.
Domestic cats descended from the wild cat of Africa and southwestern Asia; domesticated by Egyptians about 4,000 years ago. Whether they are well fed or hungry, they are effective predators of rabbits, squirrels, mice, lizards, snakes, and many species of wild birds.
Their impacts on native wildlife:
Domestic cats are not a part of a natural ecosystem. A single free-ranging cat may kill 100 or more birds and mammals per year. Even cats with bells on their collars kill birds and small mammals.
Cats compete with native predators and spread disease.
Domestic cats can be a nuisance and cause damage in many of the same ways that wild animals do with killing poultry and other small domestic stock.
Homeless cats may compete with pets for food.
Free-ranging cats can kill birds at bird feeders.
How you can help:
Do not feed cats other than your own.
Keep bird feeders away from bushes and underbrush where cats can hide.
When all else fails you can trap the cat in a humane way and transport it to an animal shelter.