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  • Writer's pictureBecky Faulks

Rescue Operation Underway for Feral Cat Colony in the Outer Hebrides

The rescue takes place amid concerns for the safety of the cats and the local wildlife


Image from WISCK

Western Isles Support for Cats and Kittens (WISCK) has stepped in to help a colony of feral cats on Barra, a remote island in Great Britain’s Outer Hebrides. Around 20 felines have taken up residence at a house on the island, prompting concerns for local wildlife as well as the cats’ own safety. The island has very few birds and no rabbits, so not only will the cat colony decimate the local population, but it will also not be able to survive on hunting alone.

WISCK is hoping to trap all the cats and transport them to Cat Central on Stornoway. It will then have them neutered before finding them homes as barn cats throughout the islands. In a statement, the charity said:

‘As the only organisation in the Western Isles focusing on trapping, neutering and release of cats, following the departure of national charities years ago, WISCK has taken a stand to support the overwhelmed community and the growing cat colony on Barra. This operation highlights the unique challenges faced by remote communities and the critical role that volunteer-run organisations like WISCK play in addressing these issues.’

Image from Britannica

Many wildlife enthusiasts have expressed firm opinions on domestic cats, arguing that they should be kept indoors at all times. However, while it is true that the presence of so many top predators can disrupt the ecosystem, staying indoors isn’t always best for the welfare of the cat. Cats are designed to roam, and many struggle to adjust to life inside. The RSPCA says:

Keeping your cat indoors will keep them away from busy roads, but some indoor environments can become predictable and boring, leading to stress, inactivity and obesity. It can be particularly hard for cats to cope with living indoors if they have lots of energy, love to explore and have previously been allowed time outdoors.

However, the organisation adds that for some cats – such as those with a disability or medical problem – living indoors could be a better option and may make them feel more comfortable. The RSPCA shares more information on how to keep housecats happy on its website, as well as a video on making a cat castle for their entertainment.

With regards to wildlife, there are plenty of options for cat owners. Citrus and lemon scents are natural cat deterrents, so keeping these applied below bird feeders will help keep birds safe. However, don’t apply them to the bird feeder itself or you may risk deterring the birds! Keeping cats spayed and neutered is vital, and if you do have stray or feral cats around your home, contacting your local animal service can make a real difference. Finally, adopt, don’t shop! Responsible cat ownership as well as support for ferals and strays will go a long way to reducing cat numbers and helping wildlife wherever you are.


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