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Feral cats and wild cats

Feral cats and wild cats

Cats as pets originate from wild cats domesticated 10,000 years ago. However, some domestic cats have returned to live in the wild and are called feral cats. Fortunately, in Spain and other European countries there are still wild felines, although their figures are threatened due to their crossing with feral cats.

In some places like New Zealand and Australia, wild cats’ hunting has had a negative effect. These are areas where local animals have never had to compete with a hunter with the skills of a cat. In the Canary Islands there is also a large population of feral cats, but some studies on their nutrition suggest that they feed on many more introduced animals, such as mice and rabbits, rather than native species such as the Barbary ground squirrel or the North African hedgehog. Thus, its effect on native species does not seem to be as serious as in Australia or New Zealand.

Wild cats, meanwhile, are still found in a large part of the world but they are rarely are noticed because they are extremely wary of humans. The various populations around the world include the European wild cat and the African wild cat.

Domestic cats can still be crossed with wild cats and produce fertile offspring, which now represents a major threat to some species of wild cats in Scotland and Hungary, for example. The largest population of wild cats that remains is in Spain and Portugal, but in these countries genetically pure wild cats are also threatened by crossing with feral cats.