Sunday 19 June 2022

Are feral cats clean?

Are feral cats clean? It's quite a good question and I feel that I need to try and answer it. Without reference to any books or the Internet, my personal viewpoint is that feral cats will maintain their typical cat cleanliness - the type of cleanliness that we see in domestic cats - if they are in good health, well fed and perhaps cared for by a feral cat colony volunteer working under the TNR umbrella.

Handsome Greek feral cat
Handsome Greek feral cat. Photo: Image by user32212 from Pixabay 

However, the big problem is this: feral cats have greatly shortened lives because survival is much harder. Food is harder to come by. The kind of food they can get at is often unhealthy. They may hunt whenever they can but the nutrition is much less good than it is for a domestic cat.

In addition, they have no veterinary care and therefore when they get ill, they stay ill. When a cat becomes ill, they lose motivation to self-groom (autogroom). Many illnesses cause a lack of appetite (anorexia). Many illnesses cause lethargy. Both these symptoms will severely reduce activity levels and motivation to do things including maintain self-hygiene.

RELATED: Feral Cats Are Healthier and Live Longer Than Thought.

And therefore, they don't clean themselves which can exacerbate their ill-health. They will develop more fleas and very badly infestations can greatly impact health especially for a young cat and certainly for a kitten.

RELATED: Independent newspaper’s BIASED headline about the feral cat threat to the Kangaroo Island dunnart.

The answer to the question is this: feral cats are not clean very often but they are sometimes. And normally they will be clean when they live in a colony cared for by volunteer. When you see those colonies, you see feral cats which are akin to domestic cats in all but name. They are semi-domesticated and are well able to be rehomed a lot of the time. And they are.

It is the neglected feral cats, particularly those living in developing countries, where conditions are hasher than usual. Where the temperatures are high or where the winters are very cold such as in Russia. Clearly, the climate affects health. Long winters will kill cats and long hot summers with 40° temperatures which appear to be commonplace nowadays in countries like India, are going to ultimately lead to premature death when combined with ill-health. These cats will not be clean. I have seen many dishevelled, unkempt, sad, clearly ill, destined to die prematurely feral cats on the Internet when researching articles. They are examples of many others.

RELATED: US troops shoot feral cats with air guns on their South Korea base.

However, we should not brand all feral cats with the same brush because it needs to be stressed that many are clean.

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