Long-haired feral cats are rarely seen in feral colonies

Why is it that we rarely see long-haired feral cats in feral cat colonies? Or have I missed something? I’ll have to keep this brief because there is not much to say unless somebody can add to the article in an enlightened comment.

Long-haired domestic cats are quite popular. There are some very popular breeds with long hair such as the Maine Coon and Norwegian Forest cat. The former is probably the most popular purebred cat in America. The long coat is undoubtedly beneficial for an outdoor cat in cold climates. The trouble is that long coats easily become matted and if left unattended can lead to infection or an infestation of the skin. The Persian cat is another example where arguably the fur is unnaturally too long. Nature would not create fur like this. Even in very cold climates the fur wouldn’t be this long. It would be denser but not very long. And I am referring to genuinely long fur not medium longhaired cats.

Long fur needs attention from humans. It needs to be combed and brushed. The cat cannot maintain it adequately on his own. As feral cats do not have human caretakers any long-haired feral cat would eventually suffer from a matted coat and the consequent potential health problems. Therefore, by dint of natural evolution (natural selection as per Charles Darwin) most feral cats have short hair which is much easier to maintain. That’s the argument.

Genetically speaking there is a reason. The gene that creates long fur is recessive. It takes two parents with the longhair gene to create offspring with longhair. As there are few longhaired feral cats this is unlikely to happen.

If there is a colony of feral cats physically isolated from other feral cats for a long time such as might occur on an island, there would be inbreeding which would allow the recessive gene to show itself and its effects. There would be some longhaired feral cats in this isolated colony.

But the default hair length for feral and domestic cats is short hair.

Now tell me that you see an equal number of short and long-haired feral cats ??

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Feeding a feral cat colony. It needs to be precise. I have doubts about quantity control of this feral cat colony! Image: Photo: Purrfect Hearts Cat Rescue.
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11 thoughts on “Long-haired feral cats are rarely seen in feral colonies”

  1. Christina Matsoukis

    I have recently started taking care of a feral or stray cat community when they at different points decided my house was safe.

    I took in my neighbor’s barn cats when he moved and the new people were letting them starve. Since then, we’ve set up cameras and have found we have several long haired strays.

    Moreover, they might be mixed with Maine Coon. We had one litter of kittens before I could get the first female fixed. They have raccoon-striped tails like their dad that had medium length fur.

    The barn cats and the male that impregnated her feel comfortable enough to come into the house. The tomcat dad is the meanest, skilled street fighter cat and has to be separated from everyone but I love him. Even though he only tolerates me for salmon.

    All the other cats and I have identified atleast 5 are all long-haired. Only one who has super dense thick brassy blond orange has a tail.

    The other four are all Cymrics – long haired Manx. They have the stumpy tails. One is small with wild black fur with an orange one every so often. One is solid black, one is solid gray, and I swore there was a multi colored black orange and white one but I don’t have pics of that one. I would love to send pics, but can’t see how to attach.

    I understand that those are rather rare but they won’t let me near them and my super mean stray alpha male cat will attack them when he catches them in there. I am new to this and I am getting everyone fixed and vaccinated as I can afford it. We can only do 5 this month.

  2. I think the issue would be for cats with undercoats that matted easily Medium coat cats like our Kitten was and now our Mercy do not get mats. I have seen Persians that were groomed daily full of mats.

  3. Romeo is a tuxedo longhair who’s completely feral but seems to keep up with his grooming quite nicely. He got his name because until we trapped and neutered him, he was dad to most of the colony’s kittens. Now he’s Romeo Emeritus.

    1. Great name. I think once again his coat is what I’d call semi-longhaired and manageable. It is the genuine longhaired cats you don’t see. Thanks for sharing, Teressa.

  4. Elisa Black-Taylor

    Clemmy is a sister to Brandy. She was dubbed “the cat from hell” when she was spayed. She’s an indoor cat now and doesn’t mind being petted if she’s on my bed.

  5. Elisa Black-Taylor

    This was one I made of Brandy the week I trapped him for TNR. The last photo made of him before the tipped ear. He visits the colony every night

    1. Gorgeous. You have met and made friends with some very attractive feral cats. I’d describe them as medium longhaired. Their fur is not as long as the Persian or Maine Coon for example. This is the sort of fur I’d expect to see but not the genuinely long fur you see on some breeds.

    2. I have a semi-feral tuxedo feral cat he has long hair like Pandora. I have been taking care of him outside on my patio and brushing him, but now I will be moving at the end of the month and I’m really worried about him. I’m moving about 1200 miles away and I can’t have cats where I’m not going to be living. I have three options is to leave him here, or there’s a lady that’s a rescuer but I don’t know anything about her or transfer him to another area where there’s a little store there, but I don’t know how long my friend is going to be there. Can someone help me please decide it’killing me up about leaving him. He gets matted from getting wet.

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