From feral to fur-ver home

An integral part of the Saving Wildcats project is a feral domestic cat Trap, Neuter, Vaccinate, Return (TNVR) programme in Badenoch and Strathspey. The critically endangered wildcat population in Scotland has become increasingly threatened by interbreeding (also known as hybridisation) with feral domestic cats. Feral domestic cats and wildcats are different species, but they can interbreed and produce viable and fertile offspring. As the number of hybrid cats increased and the number of wildcats declined, the wildcat gene pool has become increasingly diluted, and the species is now at risk of genetic extinction in Scotland. Additionally, feral domestic cats can transmit infectious disease to wildcats.

TNVR is a safe and humane non-lethal way to manage feral domestic cat populations. A small, healthy population of neutered and vaccinated feral cats pose no threat to wildcats and may help to protect wildcats by maintaining territories and keeping un-neutered feral cats out.

As part of our ongoing TNVR programme, Conservation Project Officer Lara Semple recently trapped a feral domestic mother cat (nicknamed Vision) and her seven-week-old kitten at Aviemore Holiday Park! The team at Aviemore Holiday Park have been very supportive with promoting responsible cat ownership.

After being trapped, Vision was carefully transported to our on-site veterinary facility at Highland Wildlife Park where she was anaesthetised and had a full physical examination performed on her. She was then given vaccinations and spayed to ensure that she won’t interbreed with any of the wildcats that have recently been released into the Cairngorms National Park. After recovering in our warm and quiet veterinary facility, she was then returned to where she was found. We’ve been monitoring her since, and both our camera traps and the owners of Aviemore Holiday Park confirm that she is doing well.

We work closely alongside Stathspey Cats Protection and after being trapped, Vision’s kitten, nicknamed Flossie, was taken in by one of their foster carers. After six weeks of being socialised to people she was finally rehomed and has now found her fur-ever humans.

TNVR not only helps to secure a future for Scotland’s wildcat population, but also significantly improves the lives of cats in our local community. 

Find out more about our dedicated TNVR programme >

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