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Wild Cats Survive - Time for Paws

Why even wild cats like to be fed

If you've spent some time in hotter climates, you will notice something strange. The population of wild and semi wild cats goes up sharply compared to the streets of cat-loving United Kingdom. This at first glance may seem strange, until you realise that the semi-domesticated cat has been bred to be the ultimate pest control machine! Things as it turns out are not always this simple though...

[caption id="attachment_24" align="alignleft" width="200"] bilbo baggins wild cats in Croatia[/caption]

I travel regularly to Croatia with my partner Sally and it's become a bit of a standing joke that she is a bit of a 'cat magnet'. Wherever we go in the World (especially Croatia, Slovenia and Austria) little faces will appear usually followed by purring and much begging for . It's got so bad that we actually stock up on cat food at the supermarket wherever we are travelling to prepare for the inevitability of having to feed many feline freeloafers when on holiday...

[caption id="attachment_33" align="alignright" width="300"] Three semi-wild cats enjoying biscuits[/caption]

On our last trip to Croatia, we ended up staying in an absolutely gorgeous house in an abandoned village of , which consists of around 30 houses. Only two houses in the village were occupied, the rest derelict (abandoned during the war of independence in the 1990's). Our only neighbours just happened to be one of the most celebrated restaurants on the island, so you can imagine there is a fairly healthy population of semi-wild cats around the property as well as horses, goats and lots of pests in the form of incredibly venomous snakes!

In Croatia, village cats are encouraged as they keep pests at bay. Wild cats are incredibly good hunters and survive on a diet of rats, mice and other furry critters like wild rabbits as well as being fantastically good at keeping the local Viper population at bay. This, it turns out, is even so when tourists fall for the miaw's and leg rubbing you get when any sort of food is available which doesn't have to be killed first!

[caption id="attachment_34" align="alignleft" width="300"] European nose-horned viper slithering past my feet![/caption]

Bilbo (named because he was incredibly resourceful) the local semi-wild cat came strolling in on the first morning we arrived at our house on Hvar, with a miaw and a 'give me some food' look on his face, shortly followed by two other furry friends. Needless to say, the deal was sealed as soon as the cat biscuits came out! For the next two weeks, Bilbo ignored most of the local wildlife but turned up regular as clockwork whenever the barbecue was lit.

On one occasion, I had Bilbo lying on the patio next to my feet and a small viper slid right next to my feet. The cat's reaction? Immediate and deadly! Despite filling up with food from the barbecue he felt it was his need to kill the snake immediately, which goes to show that feeding semi-wild cats isn't particularly a bad thing.

Needless to say when we turn up again at the house (yes we are going back!) our little friends will probably be there, waiting for food!


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