by Barbara George, Tellington Ttouch Behaviourist
Our recent game-viewing and photography holiday reminded me again how differently the various types of cats live.
The African Wild Cats that we saw have a harsh and dangerous environment. While they may have access to the best possible food, they are exposed to danger every minute of the day. There are few safe spots for resting, and even these are open for larger predators to catch a sleeping cat. Every metre away from a safe tree or hideout means they have to see danger first, and be fast enough to get to safety before being caught. This often leads to the areas around trees being the easiest places to catch small prey, which in turn means the area soon contains less food and the cats have to move to a different area. Apart from predators there are other dangers, snakes, scorpions, and of course cars.
This is really a life of ‘survival of the fittest and fastest’. Any sign of weakness, illness or injury and the cats become a meal for another animal. All the cats we saw looked in good condition; neither thin nor fat, good coats, and looking comfortable in their surroundings. The cats have large territories and move around looking for food.
In contrast, the feral cats that live in towns have a dreadful life; too many cats for the space and too little inappropriate food. There are enormous dangers in many forms, mostly of human origin. Diseases and parasites are rife. Life is cruel and short for most feral cats.
At the other end of the spectrum are our domestic and pure-bred cats that live with us. They generally have a long and lazy life; food provided, safety and shelter available at all times, vets for every incident.
Each of these lifestyles is different, although the basic cat is the same. Cats are born into a lifestyle and learn to manage it from their mothers and siblings (if they are lucky). Wild cats would not like a domestic lifestyle; domestic and feral cats would not survive for long in the true wild environment.