Get us in your inbox

Stray cats on an island
Photograph: Shutterstock

This remote Scottish island is being taken over by feral cats

A feral colony has descended on Barra in the Outer Hebrides

Annie McNamee
Written by
Annie McNamee

The cats are coming. There’s nothing we can do.

The people of Barra are currently learning this lesson the hard way. A small colony of at least 20 feral cats has descended upon the island in the Hebrides, and some are worried that without intervention their ranks will only continue to grow – until they outnumber the Barra humans ten to one and can finally begin their cat-regime. 

The cats are thought to be descendants of ‘barn cats’, who were kept to prey on mice and rats. But now that there are too many cats and not enough rodents, experts worry that the feline predators might start going after local birds and put the natural ecosystem off-balance. 

One charity, Western Isles Support for Cats and Kittens (WISCK), has taken it upon itself to lead the battle against the feral beasts, and is attempting to trap the cats. After they’ve been caught, the kitties will be taken to the larger islands of Stornoway and Lewis where they can be checked by vets and neutered before being returned to their homeland without the ability to add to their ranks.

Karen Cowan, who works for the charity, explained to the BBC: ‘The breeding season for feral cats is April to September, depending on the weather and how well fed they are. Their number could triple by next winter.’ 

As of right now, the cats and humans peacefully cohabit Barra. Hopefully WISCK will succeed in its mission, but if you see ‘Island in Scotland now run entirely by cats’ in the news in five years time, don’t say we didn’t warn you.

What else is happening in the UK?

We at Time Out like to keep you updated on the stories you might not see elsewhere. Did you see that these extremely old fossilised trees were found in Somerset? Or that this beautiful English country estate is for sale for £19 million? In case you missed it and need some good news, cherry blossom trees are in for a good spring this year.

Did you see that two UK cities are officially the cheapest in the world for expats?

Plus: two of the world’s best places to stay are right here in the UK

Stay in the loop: sign up to our free Time Out UK newsletter for the latest UK news and the best stuff happening across the country.  

You may also like
You may also like