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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Feral cat control in Britain; Developing a rabies contingency strategy

  • Author(s): Page, R. J. C.;
  • Bennett, D. H.
  • et al.

Feral cat (Felis catus) control is required for reasons of public health, the welfare of cats themselves, and rabies control should an outbreak occur in Britain. A prerequisite to the control of feral cat colonies would be establishing their location. A method for locating colonies was developed and tested in four urban areas with a mean area of 157 sq km. Each area was surveyed on foot and by car to obtain the number and distribution of feral cat colonies. The method involved making inquiries at premises most likely to be frequented by cats ("high risk areas"). Most (94%) of the 116 feral cat colonies found (comprising approximately 874 cats) were found at the nine high risk categories. Few feral cat colonies occurred elsewhere, confirming that high risk categories were useful in locating feral cats. Information concerning the efficacy of cage trapping as a method of feral cat control was also investigated. A wide variety of baits were used in the traps including proprietary dry pelleted cat food, which was considered to be the most effective and was used in all the subsequent trap trials. In a series of 12 field trials, using live capture cage traps, between 82% to 100% of feral cats in the colonies were captured. Altogether 202 cats were captured at a rate of 21 cats per 100 trap nights.

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