Mouse Chases Cat. Why?

Mouse and cat
Photo in public domain
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

In this video we see a mouse chasing a domestic cat. It appears to me that the cat is genuinely being chased and not playing. The cat wants to get away from the mouse while the mouse is persistently chasing him/her. Why is it happening? It almost seems that the cat has lost his soul. He has completely lost an essential element in his character, the major element of a domestic cat’s character which is the ability to hunt. Domestic cats are top level predators and wonderful hunters. And here we see the primary prey of the domestic cat turning the tables completely and becoming a predator. Or that is what it looks like.

I must say that it is baffling. My first impression is that this cat and mouse may be buddies. We know that there are many examples of domestic cats being buddies with unusual species of animal because they were raised together. Therefore perhaps the mouse wants to play and the cat doesn’t. It may be as simple as that. However, I don’t believe that this is the reason.

An alternative scenario is that the cat has genuinely lost his soul! He has lost his ability to hunt his primary prey. He has lost something which he should have inherited in his genes and be passing on in the same way (if he wasn’t neutered or if she wasn’t spayed). I think this is unlikely. Cats instinctively know what a mouse looks like and how to catch it. Domestic cats are sometimes frightened of unusual objects. A lot of us are aware of the cucumber stunt. This is when a person puts a cucumber behind a domestic cat while he’s eating and then when he turns around to see the cucumber he becomes terrified. This is because the object is strange and maybe threatening. It may be alive in the eyes of the cat and so he runs as a defensive measure.

Perhaps domestication will gradually erode the innate, inherited skills of the domestic cat so one day all domestic cats will be like this one: running away from prey. You could say that this is already happening 10,000 years after the first domestic cat appeared.

There is another possibility and it is perhaps the most likely. Mice infected with toxoplasmosis lose their instinctive fear of the smell of cats. The effect may be permanent. It seems that the parasite permanently alters a specific brain function in mice. Toxoplasma gondii removes the rodent’s innate fear of cats. This has been established in research. This loss of fear remains even months after infection. There may be a permanent structural change. Most infected mice are mildly attracted to the scent of a cat.

This brings us to a lot of discussion, some months ago, about the alleged dramatic effect that toxoplasmosis has on humans causing behavioural changes and schizophrenia. Many people don’t believe this. After all there are millions of cat owners. If there was a real ongoing risk that cat owners would develop schizophrenia from their cat’s poo I think we would have heard a lot more about it by now. There would be hundreds of thousands of schizophrenic cat owners running around half crazed causing mayhem but alas no, this is not what is happening. It is more likely that schizophrenic people are prone to picking up the parasite rather than the parasite causing schizophrenia.

Anyway, to return to the mouse chasing the cat. My preference as to the reason why this happening is that the cat is not buddies with the mouse but unsure about the mouse’s presence and therefore she has lost, on this occasion, her predatory instincts or her desire to hunt. It is impossible to judge whether the mouse has been infected with toxoplasmosis.

The reason why I believe that these two are not friends is because the woman of the house, the cat’s owner I will presume, is herself fearful of the mouse or at least she gives that impression. She lets out a couple of screams especially at the end. This indicates that she is not used to having the mouse around her home which then precludes the possible scenario that the mouse was raised with the cat. Also it seems to me that the video was made in the Middle East or perhaps North Africa. I am making this judgement from the appearance of the kitchen and by the name of the videomaker. In these countries it would be unlikely that a person would raise a cat and a mouse together to ensure that they became friends.

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34 thoughts on “Mouse Chases Cat. Why?”

  1. Michael Broad on March 18, 2018 at 5:37 am said:

    “Who is selectively breeding random bred cats which represents 99% of all cats?”

    Please review my previous post. I said that behavior-driven selective breeding whereby Felis catus developed into reflex-killers occurred long ago as part of the “domestication” process of the species. But it may have occurred fairly rapidly–in as little as half a century.

    I also said that in more recent times cats were selectively bred for “aesthetic” reasons, i.e. to achieve desired phenotypes. Modern examples are Siamese, Burmese, Persian, manx and hairless strains, to name but a few. More recently domesticated cats have been hybridized with related African species to produce offspring of certain proportions and coat-colors, such as the animal shown at the top of your blog page. Again, the focus is “aesthetics”. I suppose the same must be said of that recently developed pug-faced, dumpy strain, pictures of which are plastered all over the internet by people who think they’re “cute”.

    But breeding for phenotype likewise has a long history–it began with the ancient Egyptians, who selectively bred cats to achieve the sleek, angular phenotypes resembling as closely as possible their images of the pagan god Set’s (or Bastet’s) otherworldly messengers.

    Because cast-off descendants of former selectively bred strains now breed “randomly” doesn’t change the identity of the species–Felis catus–any more than the “mutts” produced by uncontrolled breeding of Canis familiaris can be claimed to be Canis lupus.

    Although related, Chihuahuas and timber wolves are NOT conspecific. Neither is Felis catus and F. sylvestris.

    • “behavior-driven selective breeding whereby Felis catus developed into reflex-killers occurred long ago as part of the “domestication” process of the species”

      You had better explain that. Also purebred cats represent around 0.01% of all cats on the planet so they are not relevant to this argument.

      • They’re all the PRODUCT of this process, so they’re QUITE relevant to my argument. It applies to EVERY specimen of Felis catus on the planet, “purebred” or not, whether it’s an Australian “super-feral”, a member of a “community” cat colony in a New York playground, a “barn” cat on a Minnesota dairy farm, a stray cat fed at a Turkish restaurant back door, a neighbor’s cat taking a dump in my daughter’s vegetable garden or a perfumed Persian pussy-cat perched on a pillow being fed fresh fillets of mountain trout in some rich old lady’s boudoir, they are ALL Felis catus, and as such ALL their ancestors underwent the intense behavioral-driven selective breeding and ruthless culling which MADE them so, and which has GENETICALLY FIXED F. catus’ character states which now differentiate them from F. sylvestris at the species level. And said character states, repeatedly listed in this discussion, provide the concrete evidence whereby I make this argument:

        (1) ALL F. catus lack the shearing molars of F. sylvestris.

        (2) ALL F. catus have longer large intestines, and are better able to digest fats than F. sylvestris.

        (3) ALL F. catus have smaller cranial capacity than F. sylvestris.

        (4) ALL F. catus’ killing and feeding instincts are governed by separate regions of their brains, which has transformed ALL F. catus into the reflex-killers they are today. This is why the combined results of two studies of 85 WELL-FED unconfined “pet” cats found that on average they torture and slaughter 64 native rodents, 57 native birds and 68 native reptiles per cat/per year.

        (5) I have, ready-to-hand, links to the scientific reports based on experimental studies which substantiate every statement made in (1) through (4) above, and more.

        I said nothing about purebred vs. random-breeding cats in this context. The ancestors of ALL of them went through the above-described selection process long before any of the “fancy” breeds which you say represent 0.01% of the population existed.

        • ” ALL their ancestors underwent the intense behavioral-driven selective breeding and ruthless culling which MADE them so…”

          Describe it. You keep saying it but don’t describe exactly what it is. Are you saying that the cats selective breed themselves? Sure cats select partners that improve survival but it is over 10k years and without the usual challenges that wild cats face. And the difference between the domestic cat and African wild cat is quite small in terms of character. And so it should be because 10k years is a short time. The wild cat has been around for how long? A million years?

          • The difference is NOT small in terms of physical and physiological selection-derived character STATES. I’m not talking behavior here in terms of the physical RESULTS, although they derive (usually unintended) from behavioral SELECTION (by humans).

            Here is a simple example of how it occurred, and which relates directly to the separation of killing and feeding impulses which is a PHYSICAL character of Felis catus’ brain:

            In any given litter of kittens during this process, those which could be more easily induced to remain around human dwellings were kept. Those which could not were killed–in the old days usually by drowning. Those which were better “mousers” than their litter-mates were kept, those which were not were killed. Those more amenable to being fed unwanted human food scraps were kept, those not so much were killed–and so on.

            This is what is meant by SELECTION, and that’s ALWAYS what it means, whether we’re talking the Darwinian model of wild populations’ micro-evolution or that purposely carried out by humans breeding for desired characteristics, be they behavioral or phenotypical (or both). Selection always involves CULLING, whether “natural” or human-engendered.

            The interesting thing, and it’s been demonstrated repeatedly, is that BEHAVIORAL-driven selection produces unintentional PHYSICAL and PHYSIOLOGICAL changes in the animal undergoing selection. Secondary to selecting for tractability (i.e. “tameness”) in dogs we see unintended PHYSICAL changes–the ancient wolf/golden jackal hybrids during the process of such behavioral selection lost their long snouts, upright ears and large teeth through “paedomorphism”–unintended retention of “puppy” characteristics in adult animals.

            What’s really interesting is that such profound changes could have, and have been, achieved in as little as HALF a CENTURY. As previously mentioned, the Russians did so with gray foxes. The normal response of a gray fox upon sighting a human is to flee. The Russians bred foxes to welcome human companionship on the one hand, and to viciously attack them on the other. In 50 years they got selectively bred paedomorphic animals–short muzzels, floppy ears, small teeth etc. in the “friendly” strain (which tended to pee when they were excited), and debased, psychotic “attack foxes” from the opposite strain–in only five decades.

            An analogous physical process resulting from deliberate behavioral selection for compulsive killing of small moving things in cats was the “segregation”, if you will, of the killing and feeding impulses in F. catus’ brain, such that it killed by reflex. This has been demonstrated experimentally:

            In one study confined hungry cats were fed bowls of cat-food. As they were eating, rodents were released in the enclosure. The cats stopped eating, quickly killed the rodents, then resumed eating their cat-food. They showed no further interest in the dead rodents. The killing behavior was REFLEXIVE, unrelated to the cats’ state of hunger, and was triggered by a different region of the brain than that which governed feeding.

            To re-emphasize as simply as I can, since you asked me to describe the process, SELECTION means KILLING. Those which survive do so because they exhibit the desired “behavioral” traits.

            In many cases, such as in cats and dogs, these desired behavioral traits are linked to changes in physical character states.

            Another example is F. catus’ loss of molars, because the “selected” forms were induced to stay around human dwellings and accept low-protein diets offered by humans. Shearing molars aren’t needed to lap milk from a bowl.

            Will Australian “super-ferals” regrow their molars? I hope they’re all destroyed before we learn the answer to that.

            In behaviorally-driven selection, behavior-modification was the intended result–the accompanying physical changes weren’t. They were nonetheless the means whereby desired behavioral changes were permanently fixed in these genetically-modified “domesticated” species.

            This is why domesticated cats kill when they’re not hungry. Their wild relatives don’t do this.

  2. In fairness to “Merisan from Planet Zog”, I should point out that:

    (1) this wasn’t a mouse, it was a rat. Infected with T. gondii oocysts or not, I’d guess a “Norway” rat (Rattus norvegicus). They actually came from south Asia circa the 14th century at earliest–they are generally more aggressive than the brown rat (R. rattus), and the animal shown is clearly aggressive.

    (2) Domesticated cats aren’t big on going after rats. Never have been. Traditionally the only way cats have been compelled to hunt rats was, and as is still common practice in many breweries today, to lock cats in rat-infested buildings and not feed them (or feed them only sparingly, such as occasionally providing them milk).

    (3) Professional exterminating companies have noted this as well. The standard means of estimating stray and feral cat populations at given localities has been at about one-third of the human populations in said localities (admittedly, more exacting ways at arriving at such estimates is urgently needed). But as that’s the tool we’ve got, the stray/feral cat population in Chicago, IL USA was estimated at 20 times that of its rat population. Despite this, the Orkin Pest Control Company has designated Chicago “America’s rattiest city” four years running. They found Niagara Falls Canada’s second-rattiest city, and local politicians there publicly admit that there are more feral cats there then people (!). Niagara was only surpassed by Toronto, which has hundreds of “managed” feral cat colonies from end-to-end.

    (4) Mustelids–stoats, ferrets, weasels, mink etc.–are far better at destroying rats. I’ve seen a small short-tailed weasel attack a rat twice its size and open its throat in under a second. Also witnessed a mass “exodus” of rats from a food processing plant in Kodiak, AK in 2006 when a family of ermines (aka short-tailed weasels) moved onto the property, and said property remained rat-free (evidenced by no sightings, no droppings and none being trapped) until the ermine family moved on.

    (5) Whether we’re talking a toxoplasmosis-infected rat or not in this case, what is unavoidable to any reasonable person is that in North America house mice, Norway, Pacific and brown rats are invasive species from the Old World which co-evolved with the wild ancestor of the domesticated cat, Felis sylvestris. As such, wherever these species are introduced they establish balances of mutually-sustainable numbers, such that food availability for the rodents is the primary determinant. One study–Hawkins, C. C., 1998,’Impact of a Subsidized Exotic Predator on Native Biota; Effect of House Cats (Felis catus) on California Birds and Rodents’, PhD dissertation, Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences, Texas A&M, College Station, TX.–demonstrated that cats actually promoted increase and spread of commensal “pest” rodents by eliminating native species like meadow voles and harvest mice. His findings were substantiated in at least two subsequent studies.

    (6) Add to this that cats also target and eliminate native species which control invasive rodents more effectively than themselves, such as rat snakes (Elaphe spp.), kingsnakes (Lampropeltus spp., respectively), screech, barn and burrowing owls (Megascops, Tyto and Speotyto spp.), shrews (Sorex, Sorus spp.), moles (Scalopus spp.) and even the aforementioned ermine/short-tailed weasel (Mustela erminea), it’s easy for reasonable people to see that cats are less than effective at reducing or controlling invasive rodent pests.

    (7) In addtion there is the issue of Toxoplasma gondii, another Old World invasive species which came to our shores in the digestive tracts of the cats brought here by European colonists. The fact is that, like it or not, Felids are the definitive hosts of T. gondii, infected cats shed hundreds of millions of T. gondii reproductive cells when they defecate, 40%-70% of unconfined Felis catus are infected and can become so repeatedly (it’s as high as 90% in Australia and Brazil), and said oocysts cause neuro-chemical changes in infected rodents which causes them to be sexually aroused and attracted to the scent of cat-urine rather than frightened by it, thus enabling the pathogen to complete its life-cycle when cats kill and mouth said rodents.

    (8) And finally, it is also a fact (Ajmal, et al, Journal of African Microbiology, 2012; Gerhold & Jessup, Journal of Zoonosis and Public Health, 2012) that thanks to the widespread implementation of “no-kill” abandoned animal programs like “TNR” (trap-neuter-release), the infectious agents of T. gondii now occur in our environment at densities of three/434 per square foot, and they persist and remain infectious for up to 4.5 years. All this adds up to one conclusion–invasive felines do not “control” invasive rodents. They ATTRACT them.

  3. When a cat infects a rodent with cats’ Toxoplasma gondii parasite, this hijacks the minds of any animal this parasite infects. Rodents are particularly attracted to the smell of cat-urine, they lose all fear of cats, and it increases their need to reproduce so the parasite can get back to more cats to proliferate in even greater numbers when shed by millions of oocysts in cat feces.

    There’s no mystery here. This is what Toxoplasma gondii does and how it increases its reproductive cycle by using both cat as its main sexually reproductive host (where it can mutate into even more effective parasites) and its prey for its required secondary asexual reproductive phase. This has been known for nearly a decade now.

    Don’t any of you know how the real world works? Has Toxoplasma gondii hijacked your minds too so you can’t even see how it is controlling other animals (humans included) to its own benefit?

    All animals (humans included) are just becoming another puppet for the T. gondii Puppet-Master hosted by cats. Without cats it cannot survive for more than 1 reproductive cycle.

    • You are typical of your type of person: arrogant and certain of your thoughts when there is no firm evidence that this mouse is infected. Also you people can’t help yourselves from insulting others. You are a horrible lot.

      • When all else fails the cat haters go for toxoplasmosis. Cats are dumped right and left outside and at kill shelters the minute there is a positive pregnancy test. Infected cats shed for about 2 weeks. Keeping kitty indoors and wearing disposable gloves to clean the litter box. Personally who wouldn’t wear disposable gloves while scooping?

        • T. gondii oocytsts are now so prevalent in the environment that they are air-borne in particles of dust on the breeze. You can become infected from just 1 oocyst wafting in the breeze where any cats have defecated or from the dust on your table. And cats can become reinfected many times during their lives, a high-antibody count against T.gondii in a cat does not prevent it from becoming reinfected and shedding millions of oocysts each time it does. The oocysts also remain infectious in the environment for up to 4.5 YEARS. I suggest you educate yourself on the facts about T. gondii instead of just respewing the same mythical and deceptive lies that all cat-owners have been spreading on the internet for years now.

      • Toxoplasma gondii parasites in your brain are making you say that. You must defend them and their need to exist. They not only insist that you do, they demand that you do. Your mind is no longer your own. That’s how it works. This too is why you are so hellbent on making sure that more and more cats are allowed to reproduce and roam free. It’s not your love for cats that is making you think this way, it is a parasite in your brain that is insisting you guarantee the existence of its primary form of reproduction so it can survive and thrive.

        Do you find the smell of cat-urine offensive? Or can you not even smell it, or might even think it is a pleasant odor. This is one of the simpler ways that humans can tell when their brains have been hijacked by this cats’ parasite. Similarly, studies have shown that the popularity of Chanel-#5 perfume is due to using cat-pheromones in the perfume. Due to the high prevalence of human males in France who eat undercooked or raw meats that were previously infected with T. gondii from cat-feces in the environment, the majority of human males in France are attracted to the scent in this perfume now. Just like infected rodents that are attracted to the scent of cat-urine, so too are humans that have had their minds hijacked by this brain-manipulating parasite.

        People not infected with Toxoplasma gondii parasites in their brains can immediately tell when walking into (or even up to) the home of a cat owner if they have a cat or not, by the overwhelming stench of cat-urine permeating the area. Those whose brains are infected and hijacked with this parasite can’t tell if there is a cat in the home or they don’t mind the smell of cat-urine at all, some even finding the undetectable (to them) scent pleasing and reassuring.

        Just make sure there are more cats on the planet, Toxoplasma gondii demands that you do just that. Your thoughts are no longer your own, you are being controlled by a parasite in your brain that is now making sure you provide its required reproductive host for it–cats. Your human thoughts demoted to that of parasitic protozoan awareness, where only its base biochemical survival matters, without concern nor regard for anything (nor anyone) else in its environment. That descriptive shoe fits painfully tight, doesn’t it.

          • You are now, for lack of a more descriptive euphemism, like pod-people that have been taken-over by an alien life-form. Doing the bidding of the parasite in their minds that is controlling them to ensure the perpetuation of the parasite’s required reproductive host, cats, (as-is the same function when it hijacks rodents’ brains). You don’t exist for the benefit of cats, and cats don’t exist for the benefit of you. You both exist now for the benefit of cat-shat parasitic worms that are controlling your minds.

            Some suspect this too is why so many T. gondii infected women commit sudden and unexplained acts of gruesome suicide (no peaceful methods of suicide for T. gondii infected women), even though they have had no previous mental and emotional health issues. They subconsciously finally realize that there is no other way to escape the fact that there are cat-shat worms in their brains that are now in full control of them. There is no other way out from that parasites’ biochemical brain-hijacking trap.

            You don’t have to tell us if “little green men” are telling you to say things, it’s not little green men in your case. It’s cat-shat parasitic worms in your brain that are telling you what to say now–and for the rest of your life. There is no cure for that–except one, previously mentioned. Only one “cure” which many T. gondii infected women resort to today. It’s the only choice they have left that is their own anymore, the only one which is not T. gondii’s choice being made for them for the rest of their lives.

            • Merisan, whoever you are (from planet Zog) you are banned for insulting an intelligent visitor. If anyone has been infected by this parasite it is you judging by your bizarre comment. I suggest that you return to the bottle and pills and avoid this site permanently.

              • Michael you can almost feel the spittle of hatred coming from this poster for all things cats. Which to me begs the question why post on a blog your are so violently opposed to.
                The easiest way to avoid any infection is to use proper hygiene.
                The poster Merisan is demonstrating blithering insanity based on pure hatred which lacks all reason and most of the facts. Perhaps it’s tin foil hat is impairing transmissions from the mother ship.

                • For me they have borderline personality disorders (to put it politely). They are not thinking straight. If I insult them by referring to booze and drugs I mean it because it seems to me that it is quite likely they do abuse these substances such is the bile and distorted thinking that comes out of them.

  4. We tend to think prey is fully submissive and will simply run when chased and be caught or not. Left alone like this long enough instinct would kick in although many house cats will not consume their own kill but go for the food dish after.
    My cats initially ran from a large moth in the house this summer until one of them started to stalk then the others joined in. Hate me if you will I allowed them to proceed with the hunt and malingering kill. Although the carcass shreds were disposed of and not allowed to be eaten. The same is true of the occasional grasshopper or cricket that finds it way in our door. While I’ve never seen one chase the cats are always wary of these living toys until one takes a swipe.
    BTW all wild predators are extremely cautious of any prey as even a rabbit can inflict horrible wounds given a chance.

  5. My reasoning is that “HUMANISATION OF PETS” is killing their natural “PREDATOR INSTINCTS”.pedigree and house cats are pampered with “Cat Food” and “Cat Clothes” being treated like human baby’s and hence they lose their predatory instincts over the years.Its most common with the “Persian Cat Breeed”which has becaome a “Fashion Accessory” to many women cat owners.Domestic pet cats should be occasionally fed normal meat and fish products akin to the stray cat’s to maintain their predatory instincts.Forget cats, even wild “BIG CATS” brought up in captivity in zoo’s or parks totally lose their predatory instincts and can never hunt for their own food if released into the wild as adults. Would this Cheetah named “Pian” at the “U.W.E.C(Uganda Wildlife Education Centre)” ever be able to chase a Impala in the grasslands if released into the forest ? Definitely no and it could starve to death if released into the wild.Same applies to our domestic pet cat’s whom most of the pet owners have “HUMANIZED”.

    • You’re right about “domestication” changing Felis catus–but not in the way you think judging from the arguments in your post. In fact the opposite is true–domesticated cats haven’t “lost” their predator instincts. In fact they have become reflexive, and no longer connected to hunger. Today’s cats’ killing and feeding impulses are controlled by separate regions of their little brains. We bred them that way. This profound physiological/neurological change may have come about in as little as a half century of intense selective breeding and ruthless culling.

      Therefore F. catus’ cranial capacity is on average one-third smaller, it has fewer teeth (having lost shearing molars still found in F. sylvestris), it has longer gut and greater ability to digest fats, is 50%-75% smaller (depending on which F. sylvestris subspecies to which size comparison is made), breeds two-to-three times more often, and is less territorial than its closest wild relative and parent-species F. sylvestris. And, as mentioned previously, F. catus kills on reflex, regardless of the state of its hunger. F. sylvestris doesn’t do that.

    • PS: You’re also quite wrong about F. catus’ inability to survive in the wild. The species has survived quite well in the Australian interior (where most of that country’s invasive felines are found) for over a century. It’s native Australian wildlife that are finding it increasingly difficult to survive–to where 75 million native Australian marsupials, monotremes, rodents, birds, reptiles and frogs disappear down feral cat gullets’ each NIGHT (J. Woinarski, Charles Darwin University, 2014).

      • Yes, but the feral cat is not a true domestic cat. They have adapted to living in the wild and are born in the wild. Especially the Australia feral cats. They are almost akin to their wild cat ancestor: the North African Wild Cat.

        • Incorrect. Despite more than a century of subsisting in the Australian interior, feral Felis catus remain just that–Felis catus. They retain the smaller cranium and longer gut (originally an adaptation for human-proffered low-protein diets) of their domesticated conspecifics, even those which exhibit the overall larger body sizes you apparently find reminiscent of F. sylvestris. This is NOT a “reversion” to F. s. lybicus–it’s a smaller form, not much bigger than a moggy. Other subspecies from northern and western Europe were considerably larger. The other thing is you don’t see the club-like tail in the Aussie version, which is very pronounced in (at least most subspecies of) F. sylvestris.

          Whether it’s born in your garage or in the Australian outback, physically and physiologically it’s still Felis catus, not F. sylvestris.

          • Yes, it is the same species of course but its character is almost that of the wild cat ancestor. That is the obvious point I am making. Even the Aussie authorities agree this. They describe the feral cat in their country as a super-feral akin to a wild cat.

            • Yes. I saw the first example of such an animal in the fall of 1972, after it had been shot in the chaparral-covered hills behind the Laney Community College campus in Oakland, CA USA. It weighed out at 50 lbs./22.7 kg.

              I have long suspected that feral cats engage in at least two “survival strategies”, if you will: (1) They subsist off human handouts and refuse, usually in “colonies” of (comparatively) smaller individuals, around human habitation, and (2) as larger, stronger solitary hunters which fend for themselves in the wild, and in which the toms sometimes visiting their smaller, weaker conspecifics’ colonies when the females come into heat.

              Thus there is almost certainly genetic flow between the “super-ferals” and those subsidized by human feeding wherever their respective “ranges” come in contact and/or overlap. This never happens between Australian invasive populations of F. catus and the few remaining Eurasian populations of F. sylvestris.

              I emphasize this because it’s a little misleading to refer to them as “akin” to F. sylvestris. They are far more akin genetically–as in being the same species–to the moggy dozing by your fireplace. Thank you for acknowledging feral and “owned” F. catus are the same species. That’s what I was getting at.

              • OK, but we already know that the domestic cat is in the group of subspecies of wildcats: European wildcat, African-Asian wildcat and domestic cat. The scientists are still classifying them. There are differences of opinion. The Chinese mountain cat, sand cat, black-footed cat and jungle cat are also closely related.

                We know the domestic cat is hardly domesticated so the moggy by the fireplace is not far from his wild cat ancestor. I am not sure what point you are making. The super ferals of Australia seem to behave exactly like their wildcat ancestor: a reversion from domestic to wildcat. The climate and prey base has assisted this.

                • I just gave you two significant physical differences between Felis catus and its closest wild relative (and parent-species) F. sylvestris–the longer gut and smaller cranial capacity. A third is the absence of shearing molars in F. catus. All three character-states persist in feral populations of F. catus, i.e. they’re genetically “fixed”. Such character-states are sufficient to objectively find for species-level differentiation between the two albeit closely-related forms. I’m unaware of any species which has been deemed ‘conspecific’ to another based on behavioral similarities. This would probably produce some really bizarre classification schemes.

                  The traditional view of speciation being predicated solely on reproductive isolation between related populations has likewise been shown by recent findings not to be as reliable as once thought. Example, the closely related polar and brown bears (Ursus maritimus and U. arctos, respectively) readily hybridize and produce reproductively-viable offspring where their populations overlap. What normally occurs in such cases is that closely related species will hybridize only in very narrow regions where their ranges abut.

                  F. catus vis-a-vis F. sylvestris show a different hybridization pattern because (obviously) the former is direct descendant of the latter, and, at least as important, the human-engendered superior numbers of F. catus and its higher breeding frequency enabled it to genetically swamp sylvestris wherever catus has been introduced.

                  This has also been shown in human-engendered genetic-swamping or, as some conservationists call it, “genetic pollution”, resulting in the near-extinction of the Santa Catalina Island “mountain mahogany” (Cercocarpus traskae)–a small shrub-like tree belonging to the rose family endemic to those islands. It has been almost completely genetically-swamped by a related mainland California species (C. betuloides) introduced to the islands. Only one small population remains, and its days are numbered. The same is true of F. sylvestris grampia in Scotland due to genetic swamping by introduced F. catus which at most 19 specimens remain. The species is already extinct–it just doesn’t know it yet.

                  To conclude, the consensus among mammalogists is that the genetically-modified form F. catus as differentiated from the wild form F. sylvestris at the species level–again, thanks to intense, behavior-driven selective breeding/culling, lack of “allopatric” reproductive isolation notwithstanding–simply because in the history of both species allopatry has never occurred.

                  • And, as mentioned earlier, there is one highly significant behavioral difference between the two species:

                    Felis sylvestris kills to eat, feed its kits or to teach them to hunt. F. catus, whether dozing at your fireplace or stalking wildlife in your local woodlands, kills by reflex. We bred it that way.

                    • We don’t breed domestic cats to kill ‘by reflex’. They do so because it is in their DNA. Really you are showing your true colors at last. You are a cat hater.

                  • Are you saying 10k years of domestication has resulted in the loss of shearing molars! Come on. Nearly all the world’s cats are random bred free living. There is no selective breeding going on. This conversation should stop – sorry. You are a domestic/feral cat hater. You are Jim Stevenson.

                    • (1) I can post links to experimental studies which demonstrate both reflex-killing in domesticated cats, and which demonstrate the species-level differences between Felis sylvestris and F. catus. The fact is the latter lacks shearing molars. The former has them. This was not coincidence.

                      (2) Profound physical and physiological changes such as those I’ve listed have been accomplished via behavioral-driven selective breeding in as little as 50 years. The Russians accomplished equally dramatic physical/physiological changes in gray foxes (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) in just 50 years, via intense behavioral-driven selective breeding and ruthless culling. The program began during the Stalin regime and continued up through the ’80’s or ’90’s. I can provide scientific review studies documenting this as well.

                      (3) Such behavioral-driven of selective breeding of domesticated cats is an historical fact, like it or not. Today feline selective breeding doesn’t emphasize behavioral traits, but focuses on achievement of desired phenotypes. I’m sure you can think of just as many “breeds” of domesticated cats developed this way as I can, without my having to provide you examples.

                      (4) My name is Frederick Hamilton Minshall. I’ll be 64 years old this coming May 10th. I was born in Detroit, MI. I lived in Alaska for the last 14 years, but upon retirement moved in with my daughter and her family in southern California this last January. I recently retired from 28 years of employment as a biologist with the National Marine Fisheries Service. I have a 40 year-old son and two granddaughters in Australia, and a 36 year-old daughter with two daughters and a son in southern California. I’m not Jim Stevenson. I’ve
                      never met the man, or even communicated with him online.

                      I’m not “Woodsman” or “Nature Advocate” either, but he is my friend.

                    • OK you are not Stevenson. But you have a problem with feral cats. I believe that you shoot them. Am I correct?

                    • In reply to your March 17, 2018 at 9:28 pm:

                      “OK you are not Stevenson. But you have a problem with feral cats. I believe that you shoot them. Am I correct?”

                      Not really relevant to this discussion. I have a problem with the proliferation of deleterious invasive species. That includes feral common carp, feral Norway rats, feral hogs, feral Indian mynahs, feral Burmese pythons and…yes, feral cats.

                      But what you have been unable to refute with other than frantic “denials”, is my factual arguments that domesticated cats have undergone intensive selective breeding to where they have differentiated at the species-level from their closest wild relative Felis sylvestris, and that one of the results of this selective breeding is that F. catus is a reflex-killer. This has been demonstrated experimentally, and I’m happy to post links to the relevant studies.

                      Also, I engaged in respectful, polite discourse with you during our exchanges. I have not made baseless accusations against you.

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