Categories: longhaired

Long-haired cats are rarely seen in feral colonies

Is it true that long-haired cats are rarely seen in feral colonies in the US? Dr John Bradshaw writing in Cat Sense believes that this is certainly true. If so, why is this?

Feral cat colony. All short-haired cats. Picture in the public domain.

“Long-haired cats are rarely seen in colonies testifying to their unsuitability for a life without attention from humans…” – Dr Bradshaw in Cat Sense

It may depend on the location. There may be more long-haired feral cats in Canada than America but there are no studies on this.

So why are their less long-haired feral cats than the short-haired variant. Clearly cat breeders of long-haired cats play a role in boosting their numbers but these cats don’t end up as feral cats in colonies.

Perhaps in large areas of temperature America long-haired feral cats don’t do as well in colonies and die younger. Natural selection for short-haired coats is quietly and slowly taking place in feral colonies. This is what Dr Bradshaw is implying.

Another factor might be that people are intervening in the natural selection process. A lot of people like long-haired cats but they need human intervention in order to maintain their coats as it becomes matted if left unattended by humans which leads to health issues such as a coat infestation or skin infection.

For random bred cats this appears to mean that over time more cats with short hair are being euthanised at animal shelters than long-haired cats. Or they are more likely to be killed in some way, perhaps by a person who allows their cats to breed informally.

This might be an informal way in which humans have intervened in natural selection. The end result is a higher proportion of long-haired cats in homes than would otherwise have been the case if nature had been left to run its course.

The point I am making is that you’ll probably find a lot more long-haired domestic cats in homes compared to long-haired feral cats in colonies in suburbia. It is about survival and where humans intervene nature’s natural selection is modified.

Note: by ‘natural selection’ I am referring to Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. Natural selection is the way species of all kind adapt over eons to improve survival. The species better adapted to survival therefore survive and create offspring. Therefore there are more animals of this type.

P.S. This page may be updated as and when I find more information on this topic. I welcome comments.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in a many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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