Comparative analysis of the diet of feral and house cats and wildcat in Europe

Gabriella L. Széles, Jenő J. Purger, Tamás Molnár, J. Lanszki

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4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Differences in availability of food resources are often manifested in the differentiation of feeding habits of closely related mammal species. Therefore, we assumed that the diet composition and trophic niche of house (i.e., highly dependent on human households), feral (i.e. independent on human households) domestic cats (Felis silvestris catus) and wildcats (Felis s. silvestris) differs. Based on the literature data from Europe (53 study sites), we compared the diet of these three felids analyzed with use of indirect methods (stomach and scat analyses). In the case of the house cat, we additionally compared consumption data obtained directly from prey brought home. Data were expressed as the relative frequency of occurrence to compare dietary patterns. The main prey of the three cat types were small mammals in different ratios. According to the stomach and scat samples, the diet composition of the cat types showed differences in the consumption of rodents, insectivores, wild ungulates, and household food, supporting the “dietary differences originate from varying resources” hypothesis. More opportunistic house cats had a broader trophic niche than feeding specialist wildcats, while feral cats had an intermediate position. The trophic niche breadth of all three cat types increased along a latitudinal gradient from northern to southern areas of Europe. The predation of the house cat which was examined from prey brought home differed from the data obtained by indirect diet analysis; however, it yielded similar results to the diet of the feral cat and the wildcat. Due to their high numbers and similarity of its diet to the wildcat, house cats are a threat to wild animals; therefore, their predation pressure needs to be further investigated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-53
Number of pages11
JournalMammal Research
Volume63
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2018

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Keywords

  • Diet
  • Feeding habits
  • Felis s. silvestris
  • Felis silvestris catus
  • Latitudinal gradient
  • Trophic niche

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology

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