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Need advice re: new feral & backyard wildlife

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
Hi all-

I am considering adopting a feral or two for vermin control. We live in a rural area of Northern California and have quite a bit of backyard wildlife: bunnies, reptiles, amphibians, birds (including quail) - along with the unwanted rats, etc. I have read the studies cited in previous threads regarding wildlife, but would like some first-hand input from those with ferals. I am not concerned that a feral would threated extinction of a species, rather I really enjoy having lizards, salamanders, bunnies, and birds around.

What I am wondering is if these animals would still come around if there is a feral on the property? Or would it be a direct trade - feral for wildlife? For those of you who have ferals, do you still have wildlife in your yards? Are they showing up dead all the time?

Additionally, I have heard that young females are the best hunters and that males are not good hunters, in general. Do you find this to be true? A good hunter would be desirable for pest control... but, maybe a blessing and a curse.

I would really appreciate any input you might have to offer!

post #2 of 4
My feral colony certainly hasn't run off the wildlife around my house. When we first moved here with our 5 dogs, we didn't notice any squirrels for years until we lost all of the dogs. So I think that dogs are a bigger menace to wildlife than cats.

Mine catch mostly field mice and other rodents. One caught a bunny once many years ago and they catch the occassional bird. An unspayed female that is feeding kittens will be a great huntress, but no better than a male. Whatever you adopt, please get them spayed/neutered right away if not already so.

You may want to check your local shelters to see if they have feral cat programs. Don't relocate a feral for the sake of relocation - wait until they are in desparate need to relocate ferals that would otherwise be trapped and euthanized. It happens all the time and you will be saving their lives. Allie Cats has a very lengthy write-up on how to relocate feral cats. You don't just drop them in your barn and expect them to stay. It is a 4-8 week process to make the relocation successful.

Also read some of the posts in the Caring for Feral Cats section - there is some great discussions about relocations there.

Good luck!
post #3 of 4
I would add that you need several. I don't know how one feral cat would manage as cats are social creatures. I got 3 relocated ferals, two are brothers. I rarely see them, and actually cannot tell them apart unless I get a good look. So it is nice for me to know they have each other as companions, and it isn't just one lonely bewildered cat out there. They even run if they see me looking out the window at them!
I have always thought females were better hunters than males, but it may just be in my mind! Good luck!
post #4 of 4
Actually, cats are opportunistic feeders, and more often than not the odd bird they show up with was likely injured or dead already. Some cats make good "mousers," some don't. There's no way to know in advance whether a cat is prone to hunting or not. Most ferals hunt garbage or food easily available in barns, but the cat that is a "good mouser" will do it naturally, even if comfortable and well fed.

It would be wonderful of you to "take in" several feral cats in need of space if you have it. I doubt very much there would be any impact - certainly not a noticeable one - on the wildlife on your property. If you also have coyotes, that could pose a threat to any outside cats.
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