AUSTRALIA: A study published in 2020 highlights two major health problems concerning stray cats, namely parasites and the quality of the food that they eat. Stray cats are not feral cats. They are domestic cats that have strayed from their home for one reason or another. They might have got lost for instance. They may become feral and their offspring will likely be feral.
The study found that overall “strays were physically healthy and reproductive, with few life-threatening injuries or macroscopic evidence of disease”. However, they discovered that 95% of stray cats suffered from parasitic worms (helminths) which posed a threat to their health. And alarmingly, 57.5% of strays scavenged “vast amounts of refuse, including life-threatening items in volumes that blocked their gastrointestinal tracts”.
It is indeed alarming that almost sixty percent, or six out of ten, stray cats are eating rubbish which is potentially poisonous to them while living in urban environments. And that’s the next point to make. These cats are living in ‘anthropogenic environments’ as described by the researchers. This means areas of environmental pollution which originate in human activity. I interpret that to be stray cats living in urban environments in which there are lots of human generated pollutants and rubbish around which stray cats probably congregate in the hope and expectation that they can scavenge some food which turns out to be toxic to them at least some of the time.
The researchers analysed the diets of these cats by analysing the stomach contents of 188 euthanised stray cats which were collected from Perth, Western Australia.
The stray cats were also discovered to be consuming wildlife. Nearly 40% of strays consumed wildlife including two species of endemic marsupial. This is Australia where stray cats and feral cats prey upon native Australian species considered to be vulnerable.
Australia’s feral and stray cats
It is why there is concern by the authorities on how to go about limiting predation of native species by feral and stray cats. There is a constant battle on how to do this effectively because Australia has allowed the feral and stray cat population to grow in number to the point where it is very difficult to control. This has led to attempts to cruelly exterminate all feral cats on the continent. I have to conclude that Australians are overwhelmingly cruel to feral cats. No all Aussies are but there is far too much animal cruelty. The reason? The authorities have been vilifying the feral and stray cat for decades. Blame them.
P.S. Although not mentioned fleas and upper respiratory infections are the two big other health issues for cats living on the street without human intervention.
SOME MORE ON THE STRAY CAT: