Many of us at UC IPM are cat lovers and owners. Cats are popular household pets that bring joy and companionship to many families. Feral cats, on the other hand, can cause problems in our communities and around our homes and gardens.
Feral cats are unsocialized, unowned cats that live outdoors. The problems they can cause are well documented. Feral cats are not treated by owners or veterinarians so they can carry contagious diseases like flea-borne typhus and rabies, and parasites like hookworm and fleas which can affect pets, humans, and other animals. Cats are also well-known hunters of songbirds and can significantly impact wildlife populations. While feral cats hunt, they do not completely control populations of house mice and rats, especially if food left for feral cats is present. Not only do the cats have access to the food, these rodents will also eat it and will continue to reproduce due to the availability of a food source.
A new resource by the UC Statewide IPM Program, Pest Notes: Feral Cats, covers the impacts and concerns associated with feral cats in California's urban areas. One of the main points made in the publication is advising people not to feed feral cats since this causes them to congregate, leading to rising populations, and potential for diseases and other problems noted above. See the Pest Notes: Feral Cats on the UC IPM website to learn more.