Feral cat  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

A feral cat is an unowned and untamed domestic cat. Feral cats are born in urban, suburban, or rural areas, and basically anywhere that people reside. They should not be confused with wildcats, as they are not wild animals. A stray cat (or alley cat), though unowned, still exhibits temperament similar to that of a pet. Strictly defined, feral cats are born, and live without direct human contact. Therefore, they revert back to a "wild" temperament, with a fear of humans.

Feral cats may live alone but are usually found in large groups called feral colonies. These colonies tend to meet two essential criteria: a good hiding place (often a small wooded area, or abandoned buildings or cars) and a food source. This is why they are often seen near restaurant dumpsters. The average life span of a feral cat that survives beyond kittenhood is about two years for individual cats and five years for cats in a managed colony. An indoor domestic housecat lives an average of 12 to 18 years, though not uncommonly, indoor-only cats have been known to live to their early 20's.

Cats are extremely adaptable, and feral felines have been found in conditions of extreme cold and heat.

The environmental impact of feral and free-ranging cats is a subject of debate. Part of this stems from humane concern for the cats, and part stems from concerns about cat predation on endangered species. The domestic cat was distributed throughout the world by human travelers and is not native to many parts of the world. The amount of ecological damage done by cats depends on local conditions, with the most severe effect occurring to island ecologies. Environmental concerns may be minimal in places such as the UK where cats are an established species and few to none of the local prey species are endangered. In Australia, New Zealand and parts of North America they are considered pests due to their threat to endangered species.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Feral cat" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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