Indian Street Cat
Indian street cats reside in rural villages and busy cities across India. Unlike pet cats, they typically live an independent outdoor life with little human interaction.
Indian Street Cat History
All domesticated cats trace their roots back to the African Wildcat. Remains of cats found buried in tombs in ancient Egypt suggest the relationship between humans and felines began thousands of years ago. As civilizations developed, cats became helpful partners in pest control.
Though dogs are by far the most common pet in India, cats are gaining popularity. Many people in India choose to adopt foreign pedigreed cats, such as Persians and Bengals. But the cat most commonly seen in shelters and on the streets is the native Billi cat.
Indian street cats primarily reside in big cities. Vehicle traffic, predators, extreme weather, and lack of rescue organizations all contribute to a difficult life for them.
Indian Street Cat Traits
Indian street cats can come in all shapes and sizes. But cats that resemble the typical Billi cat are medium-sized and muscular.
Signs of a life-long street cat include a clean, well-kept coat (thanks to their meticulous self-grooming), protective body language, and lack of eye contact. Because they are intact, male street cats may have thick necks, muscular bodies, and scars from fighting.
Coat and Colouring
Billi cats generally have grey spots on their coats and darker colors on their tails. Other street cats can come in various colors, patterns, and lengths.
Distinctive Physical Traits
Traits of the indigenous Billi cat include a rectangular body, medium-length legs, and a long tail.
Indian Street Cat Temperament
Indian street cats often live in groups and congregate near food sources and shelter. Though they may live in densely populated cities or towns, they are not usually accustomed to human contact. Some are fearful of being handled or confined. But others can adapt to interactions with people and learn to live indoors.
Indian Street Cat Care
An Indian street cat's diet typically consists of whatever they can find—scraps from trash cans, birds and rodents, handouts from kind strangers, and so on. If you're leaving food out for a street cat, they will benefit from the same commercially prepared diets as pet cats.
Street cats are typically efficient self-groomers that keep their coats relatively clean. If you've taken in a street cat that will tolerate it, regular brushing and nail trims will help keep them in tip-top shape.
Indian street cats are susceptible to the same diseases as pet cats—including rabies, distemper, feline immunodeficiency virus, and feline leukemia. They are also at risk for numerous internal and external parasites and health issues associated with poor nutrition.
Reviewed 23 February 2021 by Annette Louviere, DVM