Could domestic cats survive in the wild?

Cats are skilled hunters, that much is clear. Sometimes domestic cats also delight their humans with a piece of prey from the wild. But could a cat that is used to human proximity actually survive permanently in the wild? If domestic cat babies grow up in the wild, their chances of survival are similar to those of wild cats - Shutterstock / Anna Vaczi

The outdoor life of a wild cat or an overgrown stray dog ​​is very different from the sheltered life of domestic cats. Both experience a different socialization and adapt their behavior accordingly differently. While cats born and raised in the wild rely on getting their own food and raising their own species, the domestic cat can usually always rely on human attention and care.

So if you are wondering whether your house cat, who occasionally puts mice in front of you and likes to be outside, would survive in the wild, the short answer is yes and no. There are many things that cats can doom in the wild - especially if they don't know the dangers.

Cats: From survival in the wild

First of all, cats are very careful animals. They carefully explore their surroundings and prefer to take too little risk rather than too much. They also know very well where there is shelter and food for them in case of doubt and in an emergency: namely, people. If you deprive normal domestic cats of their usual safety, they will in all likelihood initially hide somewhere until they start to look for food, driven by hunger.

If she is not lucky enough to run into small animals that she can easily catch, she will soon expand her territory and will probably soon deal with human leftovers. In other words, she is starting to rummage in the trash because she already knows this type of food of human origin from the smell. The domestic cat, who is not used to permanent outdoor living and self-sufficiency, is quickly confronted with a whole range of problems:

● The consumption of waste causes diseases for which no veterinarian is available.
● At night, especially in winter, it becomes very cold and difficult to find warm shelter.
● Domestic cats are used to social contact with people and miss him in the wild.
● Unusual car traffic is particularly dangerous, the risk of accidents is high.
● Dogs, birds of prey and other predators can sometimes fatally injure the cat.

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Domestic cats also stay free

As you can see, surviving outdoors requires a lot from domestic cats. Your cat may be hit by a car, die from malnutrition, an untreated illness, or injury. In contrast, real wild cats and overgrown strays are used to living in nature. These mostly live in packs, have a maximum life expectancy of 5 years and, above all, grow up directly and from the start in the wild.

This is also the main difference between domestic cats and wild cats: the latter learn the most important survival strategies and hunting techniques as babies. Baby kittens raised in a human home also learn to hunt and have instincts to advise caution when faced with dangers, but their survival strategies are much weaker.

When domestic cats go wild: adapt to the wild

Domestic cats can overgrow if they survive the dangers mentioned in the wild and their offspring then grow into this life. They then have a life expectancy similar to that of wild cats. However, it is not nice. Conversely, it is easier for stray cats to accustom baby kittens to living as a family member in a human home than adult stray dogs, who previously only knew the great outdoors. It is not impossible to accustom overgrown domestic cats to a life of security and human care in adulthood, but it is difficult and requires a lot of patience and love.

By the way: According to the catalog of fines, the abandonment of a domestic cat in Germany is considered an administrative offense, which is punished with a fine of up to 25,000 euros.