What does a cat eat in the wild?

Like all felines, the cat is a carnivore whose digestive system is adapted to a diet rich in protein. In the wild, it feeds on small prey, mainly rodents and birds. Plants also participate in the proper functioning of its metabolism.

The wildcat diet

The real wild cat or sylvan cat (Felis silvestris) is a hunting animal that inhabits the forests of Central Europe, currently extinct on the majority of French territory. It lives in deciduous forests, marshes, moors and in low mountains where it nests in holes in trees, burrows or between rocks. The wild cat’s diet consists of small rodents (mice, rats, field mice, voles, shrews), rabbits, hares and other small prey such as squirrels and birds.

Occasionally, it may also feed on small reptiles (snakes, lizards), amphibians and batrachians (frogs). It can even consume large insects and of course fish if necessary. Its natural predators are large raptors, badgers, foxes and martens. Formerly considered a pest, the wild cat is now classified as a protected species: it is forbidden to hunt, keep, sell or buy it.

Feral cat, stray cat: what is the difference?

The term “haret” cat refers to a domestic cat (Felis catus) returned to the wild, unlike the true wild cat which is a species in its own right. These two animals still share some common points in terms of lifestyle and behavior: they feed on game, lead a solitary life and are found in the same habitats.

A domestic cat living outside can become a “haret” if it is good enough to hunt on its own and if it enjoys the proximity of forests or fields where it can find prey. This is what distinguishes it from the stray cat, the latter living more in town in contact with people. Unlike the wild cat and the feral cat, the survival of the stray cat depends on human activities since it feeds on remains found in the street, in garbage and on food possibly distributed by local residents.

How to feed a wild cat?

In France, it is very unlikely to encounter a real wild cat for the reasons mentioned above. However, it may occasionally happen to come across feral cats in the forest or in the countryside. It is not useful to try to feed them since these animals have returned to their natural state and will generally refuse any contact with humans.

In addition, only live prey is likely to attract them, except in the event of scarcity where they may possibly consume something else. We can therefore always try to feed a cat returned to the wild, by giving it fresh meat, but this risks being consumed by other predators and scavengers!

How to feed a stray cat?

A stray cat, living in an urban environment near people, can be fed like any domestic cat. Indeed, the domestic cat can absorb a more varied food than the wild cat, because its intestines are longer than those of its cousin whose metabolism is almost exclusively adapted to the consumption of fresh meat.

It is therefore quite possible to give industrial food (kibble, food) to stray cats in your neighborhood. They can also be offered leftover meat or offal, preferably lightly boiled, as well as well-cooked cereals (rice, etc.), small quantities of dairy products and cooked green vegetables.

What plants do cats eat?

In nature, the cat eats certain herbs (grasses) to purge itself, but it can also happen to it to consume fruits fallen from trees such as apples, pears and peaches. Fruits and plants are a source of essential nutrients (fibers and vitamins) for the wild cat. However, it remains carnivorous and its metabolism is not adapted to the consumption of raw vegetables.

Leave a Comment