Sunday 5 October 2008

Feral cat health

What is the state of feral cat health? We know that feral cats live a tough life. And a short life estimated at about 3 years. There is an unwarranted argument that says that feral cats spread disease. Do people who say this mean that they spread disease to people? If so they are wrong. Very few cat illnesses are zoonotic (diseases that can be transmitted between animal and the human animal).

A trap neuter return program that took place on Prince Edward Island during the spring and summer of 2001 informs us about feral cat health. This is tabulated and summarized data (below) that I have selected and which I personally find interesting. Please go to the full article if you want to see the full unabridged version (see base of post). 185 feral cats were trapped and treated. This was a very humane program.

The cats testing positive for FeLV and FIV showed signs of being in a fight - scars, cuts and bites (see this post for an example: damaged cat ears)

There is wide range in the numbers of feral cats infected with FeLV and FIV. For FeLV is varies between 4-35% and for FIV the range is 2.2-24%. See chart below for more. It may be that contracting FeLV makes a cat more likely to contract FIV.

Cats that suffer form FIV and/or FeLV are more likely to contract other diseases such as chronic abscesses, FIP (feline infectious peritonitis), respiratory tract infections (see URI), hemobartenollosis, lymphosarcoma (see cat health and cancer) and myeloproliferative disease (this last disease is a group of diseases that affects the bone marrow and which results in excess cells being produced).

Prevalence - comment
% kittens 6-12 weeks of age that were trapped
25% of all cats trapped
fetuses removed during spaying operation 41
number of females nursing litters
14 - 7.6%
% of cats/kittens positive for FeLV
9 - 4.9% -only adults were positive
% cats/kittens positive for FIV
11 - 5.9% -only adults were positive
% adult male cats positive for FeLV
% adult female cats positive for FeLV 5.4%
% adult male cats positive for FIV 13.8%
% adult female cats positive for FIV 2.7%
cats least likely to be infected with FeLV +/or FIV
younger cats, female cats and/or owned and indoor cats

From Feral cat health to cat health problems
Feral cats in Australia and the Savannah cat
Feral cats

Feral cat health - Source and thanks: PubMed Central article on TNR program on Prince Edward Island - see full article:-

Photo: published under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs creative commons License. Photo by Sister72


  1. You see Cats get used to a voice and recognize it as friendly and will warm to it. The tone of a voice is very important in my experience. When out of the room the sound of a radio talk show will speed up the process of familiarization to human activity and presence. I think it fair to say that underpinning the whole process is patience, friendliness and gentleness backed up with good food.
    David Jones

    princ edward island drug rehab

  2. Hi, I completely agree with you. Thanks for the comment.


  3. Unless these cats run free, then that good food needs to be laced with a (un)healthy dose of anti-freeze.

    My(uncaring) neighbor had cats for years. I was dealing the the results of him/her letting their cats roam at will. My lawn and garden and bird feeders were their hang-outs. I had been cat free for almost 18 months, until last week when a new pair of cats were spotted in my yard again. My neighbor has decided to bring two cats back into the neighberhood and let them roam free again. One has been dipatched, the other soon to follow.
    .17cal air rifle with a 2 liter bottle taped around the barrel is a silent way to maintain your property if anti-freeze doesn't work.

  4. Response to last comment. For me you are a complete arsehole. I hate you. Simple.

    If I was a neighbor to you I'd lace your drink with anti-freeze and force you to drink it.

    That would just be the beginning.


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