How many animals in the wild are escaped pets, or offspring of escaped pets?



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    I could not find a specific answer to this question, because I’m not sure anyone has tried to quantify the total numbers of escaped pets of all types out there, but it certainly appears to be a lot. Feral cats are a major problem in the United States, where there are estimated to be about 60 million domestic pet cats and at least as many feral cats. The populations of feral cats have swollen in recent years, ironically because of the recession: as people have less money and their spending power decreases, some will judge their pets to be a dispensable expense and release them into the wild. The problem is probably worse for cats than for dogs because there are so many “animal rescue” groups focused on particular breeds of dogs, and these groups and their activities often get more attention than do the smaller number of similar groups for cats. Some pets can’t survive in the wild. If your pet ferret escapes, for instance, you may as well kiss it goodbye; ferrets can’t knock over garbage cans to forage for food the way dogs and cats do, and the vast majority will die in the wild after a short time. As for offspring of escaped pets, I’m not even sure an estimate of that number is possible. Certainly it’s in the tens or hundreds of millions when you’re talking about dogs and cats alone.

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