Kenyan Street Cat
Kenyan street cats are free-roaming felines that reside in forested areas and city streets. They share many physical characteristics with pet cats, but they've genetically adapted to their local environment and lead a mostly independent life outdoors.
Kenyan Street Cat History
Like all domesticated cats, Kenyan street cats can 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. But before selective breeding began in the 19th century, cats were—and mostly still are—non-pedigreed.
Unlike pet cats, Kenyan street cats live with little human contact. Feral cats—known as khadzonzo—that roam the coastal region of Kenya formed the foundation of the Sokoke breed in the 1970s. Khadzonzo typically have lean bodies, long, tapered tails, and mottled coat patterns.
Lack of neutering, financial constraints, and attitudes about cats, in general, all contribute to an overpopulation of Kenyan street cats.
Kenyan Street Cat Traits
Kenyan street cats come in different shapes and sizes. However, they often have a long, lean appearance that resembles Asian domestic cats.
Signs of a life-long street cat—versus a stray cat who may be lost—include a clean, well-kept coat (thanks to their meticulous self-grooming), protective body language, and lack of eye contact. Because they're intact, male street cats may have thick necks, muscular bodies, and scars from fighting.
Coat and Coloring
Though all colors and patterns are possible, Kenyan street cats often have short, coarse, tabby coats that come in shades of brown with prominent ticking and mottling.
Distinctive Physical Traits
Kenyan street cats do not follow a breed standard. Their combination of features can vary. But they often have narrow faces, long ears, lean bodies, long legs, and tapered tails.
Kenyan Street Cat Temperament
Street cats often live in groups and congregate near food sources and shelter. Though they may live near people, they are not usually accustomed to human contact. Some are fearful of being handled or confined. Others may adapt to interactions with people and learn to live indoors.
Kenyan Street Cat Care
A Kenyan 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 fastidious 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.
Kenyan 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 February 23, 2021 by Annette Louviere, DVM