Monday, December 19, 2005

Do feral kittens make good pets?

Do feral kittens make good pets? - Cat World article
A survey tracked a group of rescued kittens for a year and came up with some surprising results

Believe it or not, rescued feral kittens can actually turn out to be more loving and affectionate than your average rescued domestic moggie.Work emerging from the charity Cats Protection is showing that if feral kittens are socialised from an early enough age, they can generally become calm and content enough to be relocated successfully to a normal home environment.When 70 rescued feral kittens were studied during their first year of life, the surprising result was that, at one-year-old, they were mostly happy to be handled, purred more and were generally quieter than their domestic counterparts.
Rewarding pets
The study showing rescued ferals can make rewarding pets was conducted by Dr John Bradshaw, director of the Anthrozoology Institute (Azi) at Southampton University and Sarah Lowe, Azi manager. They looked at an affluent area of Southampton and found less than four per cent of cats there able to reproduce - evidence neutering was being increasingly accepted as the best way to prevent unwanted kittens. A survey of Cats Protection branches and shelters by the Azi team indicated, however, that rescuing feral kittens is still an important area of work for the charity. In fact between 22 and 45 per cent of Cats Protection's rescued kittens were feral and Dr Bradshaw thought it likely the demand for kittens in areas where there were less domestic ones was being met increasingly by kittens of feral origin, after rescue and socialisation. Little or nothing was known about the suitability of feral kittens as pets long-term, so Dr Bradshaw's team set out to see how such a kitten's environment affects its adult behaviour towards its owner.
Ease of handling
A hundred feral kittens rescued by Cats Protection shelters and branches and other animal rescue organisations were tested for ease of handling and readiness to play during the fostering period of seven to 13 weeks. Seventy of these, all from Cats Protection, were tested again at six and 12 months old, after rehoming. Thirty-five kittens of domestic origin, rescued by the same Cats Protection branches and shelters as the feral kittens, were also tested for comparison.
The results were:ยท
During fostering, feral kittens rescued after six weeks of age were unlikely to purr when handled. Many rescued at eight weeks plus were difficult to handle at all, except when they had been in contact with people before rescue.
  • By 12 months, feral kittens difficult to handle and/or reluctant to play with a toy tended to be the ones rescued after seven weeks old. Those socialised intermittently during fostering, perhaps in an outdoor pen, were more reluctant to play with an object presented by an unfamiliar person, compared with those socialised continuously, in a cage in the fosterer's kitchen for example.
  • There was an immediate improvement in ease of handling and readiness to play, following socialisation by more than one person during fostering. By six or 12 months, this effect was no longer apparent.
  • At 12 months old, 18 per cent of the feral kittens were still difficult to handle and were rated as less than 'very satisfactory' by their owners. The owners of the remaining 82 per cent, the friendly feral kittens, found them equally satisfactory as pets as did the owners of the rescued domestic kittens, at one year old.
  • The friendly feral kittens gave some indications they were more attached to their owners at one year of age than the rescued domestic kittens. When handled they were more likely to purr, made fewer escape attempts and were generally less active than the domestic kittens.
  • Undesirable behaviour at one-year-old, like scratching furniture, aggression towards other cats and fearfulness, was unaffected by whether a kitten had originally been feral or domestic, though toileting problems were slightly more common in ferals.

Good socialisation
The study concluded that feral kittens, if rescued before seven weeks of age, are very likely to become satisfactory pets. It recommended continuous socialisation by more then one person to become 'best practice', if possible, for fostering, both for the kitten's welfare and to ensure it satisfies its new owner's expectations.
Results also showed it was important to consider whether rescue and rehoming into a domestic environment is likely to be in the best interests of feral kittens aged seven weeks or more. So far as adult feral cats are concerned, Cats Protection recommends they are trapped, neutered and returned to their natural habitat, because it is recognised they cannot easily be rehomed in a domestic environment. In order to alleviate the unnecessary destruction of feral cats and to enable them to remain feral, several Cats Protection shelters and branches have successfully rehomed some ferals to farms and stables. This initiative aims to allow feral cats to thrive in the right environment, as well as keep the rodent population under control.

Cat World Article Archive

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Ibiza trip Nov 2005

What do you think of when you hear somebody's going to Ibiza for a fortnight? They're off for a relaxing holiday with sun, sea, and endless partying? Well, for a small but dedicated band of volunteers it means something very different...

SNIP's trapper, Tan Ahmet, has been on several trips to Ibiza organised and funded by Angela Collins of the charity Care 4 Cats.

In cooperation with local charities they aim to neuter as many cats as possible during the 1 or 2 weeks of their stay. As you can see from the photos, there are large colonies of feral and stray cats in Ibiza and the other Balearic islands, and left unneutered the population quickly gets out of control.

Their visits do involve a lot of late nights, but they are spent setting traps, waiting patiently for the cats to go in then taking them to the vets to be neutered. They always try to get every cat in the colony, and often there will be that elusive one that takes days to catch.



The latest trip was in November 2005, a 2-week stay during which an amazing 570 cats were trapped and neutered. This is a selection of pictures taken during this trip.


If you want them to go into the trap,

don't leave a bag of

food lying around!




That's better...





The cats are given a few hours to recuperate (longer for females), then returned to their site.

As Care 4 Cats becomes more widely known on the island, more and more people contact them asking for help with colonies they are feeding.

For more information, see this report on a previous trip in 2004 on the website of the Worldwide Veterinary Service - a WVS nurse helped Care 4 Cats on that trip



Friday, December 09, 2005

PATSY - looking for a (Fabulous) new home HOMED

Absolutely Fabulous Cat!!

This stylish feline, seen here relaxing in her former pied-a-terre, is 9 years old.

Sadly, her owner has become too ill to care for her any more, so she urgently needs somewhere new to call home.

A lady of a certain age, she is by no means old but is so over all those silly kitten antics, dahlings, and far better behaved than her Ab Fab namesake!

Ideally she"d like a garden, but would consider a large indoor home.

Would you like her to adorn your sofa, sweetie?

Give SNIP a call on 0700 594 7647 ("adopt a cat" option) or email