Monday 9 June 2014

Neutering May Reverse the Domestication of the Cat

Neutering Stalls the Domestication of the Cat

Theoretically, or perhaps it is actually happening, neutering male domestic cats may reverse the overall domestication of the cat.  This is the proposition of Dr Bradshaw of Bristol University.

Feral cat - Photo by Rikki's Refuge

What the proposition states is that if nearly all male domestic cats are neutered then the only cats that can procreate are feral cats who are not neutered.  The feral tomcat is found everywhere in the United Kingdom although you hardly ever see them.

The feral cat has attributes that are quite different to those of the domestic cat.  This is a wild cat at heart with a desire to retain territory, fight and procreate.  The domestic cat is just that: a domesticated animal who has become sociable and adapted to living in the homes of people.

If a feral cat mates with a domestic female cat the offspring will be less domesticated than would otherwise be the case. If that situation happens millions of times you could end up with the gradual dilution of the domestication of the cat across a country.

That's the theory.  Dr Bradshaw is a renowned cat behaviourist and scientist.  He also states that the genetic difference between the domestic cat and the wild cat is the smallest of all the domestic animals.  Because of that, it does not take much to reverse the process of domestication.

If he is correct, it would encourage more people and perhaps more authorities to engage in trap-neuter-return programmes across the country to reduce the number of feral tomcats out there looking for a domestic cat to mate with.

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