Incredibly, there may only be 35 pure Scottish Wildcats left in the wild. Our only surviving native feline, they are on the edge of extinction and urgently need help.
HSI is putting compassionate conservation into action, working with Wildcat Haven to protect these rare animals by sterilising domestic and feral cats to minimize cross-breeding — one of the greatest threats to their survival, along with persecution by humans and loss of habitat.
The vets at Wildcat Haven are practicing, in west Scotland, the same techniques we use in our well-proven TVNR programmes for dogs and cats around the world, from Bhutan to the Philippines. By spay/neutering all companion, stray and hybrid cats within identified hotspots, the team is creating a secure area where Wildcats are given the best chance to breed, in familiar territory, with their own kind.
This programme promotes the use of humane, non-lethal methods to keep the domestic and feral cat populations in check, and also ensures, through vet visits and vaccinations, that all the cats — domestic, hybrid and Wild — are as healthy as they can be: a win for all the animals involved!
Supporting the work of the Wildcat Haven team allows researchers and experienced vets to be on hand throughout the year, checking, trapping and spay/neutering all the cats who share the Wildcats’ range.
What they do:
- Researchers comb the land and set camera traps to record evidence of all cats using the area: domestic moggies, ferals, hybrids and pure Scottish Wildcats; the data is assessed and trapping areas identified.
- The veterinary team oversees the setting of humane traps every autumn and winter. These are baited with food and carefully situated to ensure the cats are well-protected from the elements.
- A temporary veterinary clinic is set up in the nearby community centre.
- Experienced veterinary teams give each cat a full health check. It is vaccinated and sterilised, then given a good feed, before being returned to the same location where it was caught.
- Wildcat Haven encourages local residents to have their own companion animals spay/neutered and vaccinated, at no cost to themselves. This has proved to be a popular and much-appreciated service, with a high take-up rate.
- Local schools and community groups are encouraged to get involved and learn more about the humane solutions available to help protect their rare local Scottish Wildcats.
The whole peninsula of Ardnamurchan, in the West Highlands, has been covered and with our support, the team is now expanding its efforts into the surrounding area of Morvern to create a 500 square mile haven, across prime Scottish Wildcat territory.