Feral Tabby Cats On The Prowl!

Yesterday, we saw a gray cat with black stripes (one broad black stripe down its back) in the outlet in back of our house. It was about the size of a large housecat. It definitely was not big enough to be one of the large cats which can be seen in Iowa. It wasn’t a lynx, bobcat, or mountain lion. I think it was hunting for rodents.

And today, believe it or not Sena alerted me to another cat in the same location, only it was brown and white. It looked identical otherwise.

I was stumped until I thought of tabby cats. I’m not a cat person so the only way I would know this is because I’ve heard the term before. I found out the tabby cat has a marking on its forehead that looks like the letter “M.” The markings are often striped or swirled. The term “tabby’ doesn’t refer to any particular breed of cat; it just refers to the markings. I think both cats have an “M” marking on their foreheads.

I think Sena saw a cat like this not that far from our back yard last year. It was surrounded by kittens.

I wonder if they’re feral. That led me to the internet. According to one web site, both stray and feral cats are called “community cats.” Strays usually are accustomed to being around humans and can be lost or abandoned. Feral cats are not used to being around humans and live wild.

So, I think these cats are feral tabbies and maybe they’re litter mates. Some say that a large percentage of feral cats are tabbies. I don’t know if they’re male or female—and you can’t pay me enough to check. I gather it’s tough to tell a cat’s gender just by looking at it. Males tend to have wider jowls, and tend to be bigger.

If you think I’m mistaken about what kind of cats these are based on the video, please let me know.

The other interesting thing about the gray feral tabby sighting was how whitetail deer reacted to the cat’s presence. We watched as a deer seemed to approach it warily, staring at it while stamping its hooves. We got the impression that the deer did not want the cat in what looks like its territory, judging from how often deer graze there—which is daily.

I found information on the internet suggesting that deer don’t get along with feral and stray cats. One YouTube video showed deer being aggressive to a stray cat. It makes sense that deer would hate cats. Deer are prey for large cats like mountain lions.

In general, all cats including feral cats can transmit a parasite, Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii), to both deer and humans. Infection with T. gondii is usually asymptomatic. You get it from eating undercooked meat or contact with cat feces. There are a few studies suggesting that there is a relationship between toxoplasmosis and schizophrenia, although it’s not clear what that connection is yet (Osman E, Mohammad Zahariluddin AS, Sharip S, Md Idris Z, Tan JK. Metabolomic Profiling Reveals Common Metabolic Alterations in Plasma of Patients with Toxoplasma Infection and Schizophrenia. Genes (Basel). 2022 Aug 19;13(8):1482. doi: 10.3390/genes13081482. PMID: 36011393; PMCID: PMC9408728.)

The gray cat left the area, although I’m not sure it was because it felt threatened by the deer or because it just wasn’t having any luck finding food.

Today, the sighting of the brown and white feral tabby was exciting because I caught video of it catching a mouse!

Author: James Amos

I'm a retired consult-liaison psychiatrist. I navigated the path in a phased retirement program through the hospital where I was employed. I was fully retired as of June 30, 2020. This blog chronicles my journey.

2 thoughts on “Feral Tabby Cats On The Prowl!”

  1. I would call it a tabby. And its hard telling if its feral or someone who lets their cats out. Im a cat person so I would be out there going here kitty kitty and feeding it if it was skinny. If you do that it will keep coming back and rely on you for food..lol And catching anything from them is slim. Have had cats all my life both pets and took care of a feral colony and im fine..Just be nice to the Spegal and it will be nice to you lol..

    Liked by 1 person

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