Feral cats are the wild offspring of domestic cats. Domestic cats that are not neutered may have 2-3 litters annually. The kittens grow and reproduce in the wild forming colonies of their own. Domestic cats, no matter how tame, loving, and well-fed they may be, cannot resist what their DNA has programmed them to be- efficient and relentless predators. Dangle a string in front of your cat and watch her response. Her body will tense as she prepares to pounce. She does not do this for your amusement; she does it because she is one of nature’s great hunters.
Domestic cats may kill songbirds, game birds, lizards, and rodents on occasion, and feral cats do so on a regular basis. Over the years, they have had a serious detrimental effect on bird populations that are already straining to survive in a world where migratory winter habitat is becoming deforested at alarming rates. Feral cats are also responsible for taking fishes, amphibians, moles, voles, lizards, and other wildlife- some of which may be endangered and protected by law.
Feral cats live in close proximity to human settlements; thereby, making them potential vectors for disease transmission.. They may carry diseases that can be transmitted to domesticated cats, such as feline leukemia, distemper, and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). They also can carry zoonotic diseases such as rabies, cat scratch fever, and ringworm.
Check with your local animal control agency for information on managing feral cats. Municipalities set their own standards with regard to what constitutes a feral cat. Trap, neuter, and release (TNR) groups may offer to take these animals in their care, but this is not the most environmentally responsible course of action. Feral cat colonies should not be encouraged. Where possible, the cats should be trapped and taken to animal control facilities.