Cats have taken over the world! Feral cats, in particular, have become a growing concern in the US. The statistics are staggering, with an estimated 70 million feral cats roaming wild in the country. Various factors contributing to the increase of feral cat populations include pet abandonment and a lack of affordable spay/neuter services.
To better understand the impact of feral cats on the country and how to help our feline friends, let’s take a look at the 9 feral cat statistics in the US.
1. Around 70 million feral cats roam wild in the United States. (Advanced Pet Vet) This is a significant increase from the estimated 44 million in 2014. What defines a feral cat? It is any cat that has been abandoned, lost or unowned, and has adapted to a life without human contact. These cats may struggle to survive on their own, and their numbers are increasing due to a variety of factors.
2. A colony of feral cats can range from two to over 200 cats. (Tennessee.edu) The size of a feral cat colony varies greatly based on access to food. If there is an easy food source, the colony can reach very high numbers. Feral cat colonies typically consist of females who, if left intact, will continue to have litters, thus raising the feral cat population.
3. The average lifespan of a feral cat is 2 to 3 years. (Tennessee.edu) While housecats can live between 12 to 20 years, feral cats only live a fraction of that time. Feral cats are more prone to infections that can lead to death. They travel to find food or mates, which presents the risk of getting hit by a car. They are also prone to being attacked by other feral cats or predators.
4. Los Angeles, CA, has the largest feral cat population, with an estimated 1 to 3 million cats. (KTLA News) Los Angeles is home to the most feral cats in the country, with the mild weather and access to food among the reasons for the high numbers.
5. Trap Neuter Release helped reduce feral cats by 66%. (AVMA) Trap Neuter Release (TNR) is a program that helps control the feral cat population in the US. Through TNR, feral cats are trapped, spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and released back into their territory. This helps control the population and allows them to live without reproducing more kittens. TNR has helped reduce the number of feral cats by an estimated 66% in the US.
6. Only 10% of Americans feed feral cats. (HumanePro) Feral cats are tough to tame, but it’s not impossible. One way to do this is by feeding feral cats on a regular basis. According to estimates, only 10% of Americans feed feral cats in their neighborhoods, and more education is needed to help these animals become tamer, more adoptable, and introduce them to human lifestyles.
7. About 25% of the feral cat population’s diet is birds. (HSUS) Feral cats are part of the natural ecosystem and have a vital role in maintaining balance in their environment. That noted, they can also be found in bird habitats, which is why it’s important to maintain a balance between protecting wildlife and the feral cat population.
8. Feral cats have reduced the population of 27 species. (Research Gate) Feral cats have a significant impact on their environment, and studies show that they have reduced the population of 27 species, including birds, and small rodents. This can be a problem for some native species, also endangered due to habitat loss or other issues.
9. Feral cats can have litters of 12 kittens. (International Cat Care) Litter size can be a significant problem, as a single female cat can have litters of around 12 kittens yearly. Spaying and neutering are essential measures to control the feral cat population and help ensure kittens aren’t born into a life of poverty or struggle.
Feral cats are a growing concern in the US, with their numbers increasing with each passing year. The increase is due to pet abandonment, lack of affordability for spaying/neutering, among other factors. Educating people about the importance of helping feral cats needs to be at the forefront; this helps gain interest in the benefits of feeding and taming them. The research shows that TNR has successfully reduced the number of feral cats in the US; however, more work is needed to bring the numbers down. Balancing the protection of wildlife and feral cat populations is a challenging task.
The situation with feral cats in this country can be improved with simple steps, such as feeding them or setting up shelters, but also with the more significant steps of spaying/neutering and TNR. It is everyone’s job to help eliminate this problem – are you doing anything?