"The first cats probably arrived on ships, along with the rats on which they fed. Some may even be the descendants of pirates' cats. One cat, known by the name of 'Sam Salt' was a survivor of the Carroll A. Deering shipwreck in 1921. Other cats were brought to the island by newcomers. Unless neutered, they continue to reproduce and grow in number. According to a 1923 newspaper, hundreds of cats roamed the island at that time.* This is still true today."
* From The Deming Headlight (Deming, New Mexico), Friday, October 5, 1923, ·Page 5: "There are no dogs on the island, but cats have multiplied until there are hundreds. Having rid the village of mice and rats, the felines have almost eradicated the many snakes which once thrived in Ocracoke."
Pat Garber goes on to answer another question, "Does anyone take care of the cats?"
"Many island residents feed the island cats, and there is a non-profit organization, Ocracats, which collects money to feed, neuter, and provide veterinary care for them."
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the Electrification of Ocracoke Island. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news022117.htm.