Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Feral Cat Returns to the Backyard




My closest encounter yet with a born-in-the-wild truly feral cat that lives in the scrub/woods behind the backyard. Strictly a dusk to dawn hunter, this encounter took place near dusk when I accidentally came between the cat and its normal escape route to the rear. It is a very dark video at first as the cat hides behind a tree until the end when it makes its escape. Typical of cats raised in the wild it never vocalizes nor makes much eye contact and runs away if it encounters people.  In this case I'm holding my distance of about 20 feet and appearing non-threatening as part of a slow process to begin trying to socialize the cat. I'm sure it does eat a few birds - occasionally unfortunate Mourning Doves on the ground in the morning or early evening are the most likely victims. I have the bird feeders away from potential crouching/ambush spots  for the cat. Songbirds it can't get to because of the dense undergrowth and tree growth and the constant vigilance of the squirrels, Jays and Mockingbirds mean its hunting in the daytime would be futile - they watch everything. It most likely subsists on abundant lizards and snakes and small mammals such as wood rats and mice - squirrels are pretty good at the alarm and I have never seen this cat high in the oaks or pines - it would be attacked by hawks and mockingbirds if they did in the daytime. It definitely defers to the large raccoon's at night - I think it may lose that fight and wont risk injury! This is the same cat avoiding a raccoon on: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bBgCHTf8rcE
Whatever one thinks of feral cats - and I definitly don't like it eating any birds, this one is a magnificent creature. As far as I know we do not have native Bobcats or coyotes in this area - this cat would not exists long if we did - and this one cat fills a niche in the ecosystem. Cats like this with a year or more in the "wild" and wild born are probably not adoptable as pets, so I will leave it be and see if I can come to terms with it in the backyard.

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