Feral cats are domesticated cats that have returned to the wild. This can include cats born in the wild to strays, or any of the succeeding generations. The Humane Society of the United States estimates at least 50 million feral cats live in the US. Even considering the source this is a staggering amount. The true controversy, however, lies in what the effects of these feral animals are. Scientists have long been at odds with the cat loving community regarding the negative impact of feral cats. While seemingly not a noticeable issue in the continental US, the scientific journal Nature Communications states that as many as 3.7 billion birds are killed each year by feral cats. In a large landmass like the US, this number is not so severe, but on small islands, and even Australia, feral cats are said to be responsible for the endangerment and extinction of many species, including birds, small rodents and even small reptiles.
Feral cats are common carriers of rabies as well, and dense populations are known to spread the disease like the plague. So perhaps it’s time to listen to the scientists and not the warm fuzzy feeling often elicited by felines, and begin to eradicate these animals which we introduced to the ecosystem in the Age of Exploration.