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Feral and Stray Cats—An Important Difference

Feral and Stray Cats—An Important Difference; Feral cats, wild cats, stray cats — we have many names for the mysterious felines we sometimes see peeking out from under our porch or darting into abandoned buildings. Yet most of them share a single destiny: short, difficult lives. Fortunately, helping feral or abandoned cats isn’t difficult. WebMD went to the experts in cat health and behaviour for tips on how to make a difference in the lives of our feline friends who are living on the edge.

Domestic cats are a species of cats that includes a pet, stray, and feral cats. Within this classification, there is also a unique difference between the feral and stray cats. This difference is noticeable in the way they interact and relate to human beings. As an individual, learning how to relate to different animals is important. It doesn’t matter if you are just a person in a neighbourhood overrun with feral cats or a shelter worker. Deciding on the best form of interaction becomes easy when you learn the behaviour unique to each type of cat.

There are no biological differences between domestic and stray cats, however, feral cats often have a more unkempt appearance. The word feral means the cat has either escaped his owner or was born without contact with humans. Feral cats fur often have a scruffy look and their bodies of often very lean and lanky. Both domesticated and feral cats are around 9-10 pounds on average when fully mature, although certain breeds can grow significantly larger.

In Australia, predation of native fauna by invasive carnivores, including the feral domestic cat (Felis catus), is recognised as a ‘key threatening process’ under the Australian commonwealth environment protection and biodiversity act 1999 (epic act). Since its introduction to Australia ≈200 years ago, the domestic cat has become established across the entire continent [ 1 ]. Recent estimates indicate that there are 1. 4–5. 6 million feral cats in natural environments, and another 0. 7 million strays (‘semi-feral’) cats in highly modified environments such as urban areas, refuse dumps and intensive farms.

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What is the difference between a stray cat and a feral cat?

Stray cats differ from feral cats in that a stray has clearly been someone's pet and is not overly afraid to approach humans. Many people still allow their pets to roam outdoors, in spite of the dangers they face from speeding cars and rabid raccoons.

Many outdoor cats get mistaken for strays, as do feral cats. Make sure he or she truly is a stray. For example, look for collars, id tags, or evidence of microchips, and make a good effort to find the owner if you suspect there is one. In fact, “a feral cat will show fear of humans and may be aggressive,” according to the animal care centre of the forest park. It’s best to leave a feral cat alone in most circumstances. If you’re not sure, or if the cat is ill or has kittens, ask a local veterinarian.

Cats in your neighbourhood are often community cats. The difference between pet cats and community cats is that community cats are often feral. Feral cats have had little or no contact with humans and are fearful of people and cannot be adopted. These cats do have a home: the outdoors. There is a simple way you can help community cats: shelter-neuter-return (SNR).

As an individual, learning how to relate to different animals is important. It doesn’t matter if you are just a person in a neighbourhood overrun with feral cats or a shelter worker. Deciding on the best form of interaction becomes easy when you learn the behaviour unique to each type of cat. In this article, we shall be learning the difference between feral and stray cats.

How do I tell the difference when the cats are outdoors?

A feral cat is typically born in the wild or outdoors with little to no human interaction. If you attempt to get too close or try to pet them, feral cats view your hand as a claw that will harm them and will hiss and/or run away. Feral cats are born from other ferals or from stray cats. What is the difference between the two? well, a stray cat was once a pet cat, until it was either lost or was abandoned by its owner. While they struggle to survive in their new outdoor environment, some strays become fearful of people, even adopting feral behaviours after a period of time, depending on their surroundings.

First, do you know the difference between stray cats and feral cats? stray cats are socialized to people and can be adopted into homes, but feral cats are not socialized to people and are happy living outdoors. To do what’s best for the cat, you need to know the difference!
when deciding what to do with the cats you have found, it’s important to know that if you take a cat to an animal shelter, most shelters will likely kill the cat. Seventy per cent of cats entering shelters are killed, and that number jumps to nearly 100% of feral cats and kittens.

Despite hearing the words “feral” and “stray” being used interchangeably, there is a big difference between the two. The main distinction is:
stray cats are cats that are either unowned or semi-owned and were almost certainly owned at some point. They will typically be approachable and friendly having had a good amount of human contact in their lives. Feral cats are cats that have never lived with humans and been part of a household. They will be not friendly if approached due to not being socialized, and they have become adept at living outdoors and surviving by themselves.feral cat in street

How do I tell feral and stray cats apart once I have trapped them?

A stray cat is a cat who has been socialized to people at some point in her life but has left or lost her indoor home, as well as most human contact and dependence. She can become feral as her contact with humans dwindles. A stray cat can under the right circumstances become a pet cat once again. Stray cats that are re-introduced to a home after living outdoors may require a period of time to re-acclimate; they may be frightened and wary after spending time outside away from people.

Snr is the only method proven to be humane and effective at controlling feral cat population growth. By using SNR, the community cats in a colony are trapped, neutered and then returned to their territory by one of our release partners, such as pawsco and Denver metro cat, where caretakers provide them with regular food and shelter. This program ends reproduction, stabilizes community cat populations, improves individual cats’ lives, and saves more shelter cats that are unsocial.

Pet and stray cats are socialized to people. Feral cats are not socialized to people. While they are socialized to their colony members and bonded to each other, they do not have that same relationship with people.

Careful observation of cat behaviours and interactions with other cats will teach you a lot. Here are a few things you may learn;
initiating contact with a feral cat will cause it to flee
the behaviour of a stray cat is similar to that of a house cat. When talking to a stray cat, you may get a vocal reply
there is no vocal communication from a feral cat ie. Don’t expect a meow.

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There’s also the heightened risk of contracting diseases. Are you scared and confused about this? do this as frequently as necessary. Old cat lady January 4, 2010, at 11:01 am. I used the beneficial nematodes in my garden when I moved in 14 years ago and have never had to worry about fleas on my cats since. The parasite is in the faeces and may get under the cats’ claws as they “bury” the poop, but I myself doubt you’d get it just from being around a stray or feral cat or even from petting a stray or feral cat (if it let you)—unless your ob-gyn says otherwise in your particular case.

They don’t like noise, so I grab a stick and whip away at the palmettos near the raccoons to scare them (palmettos are a palm-like bush with dry fronds that make a lot of noise when you hit them with a stick). Here are some suggestions for you to try to get rid of feral cats. The wooden body makes the feeder sturdy enough so that it does not topple while the cat is using it. When it comes to raccoon-proof automatic cat feeder, the pet safe pet feeder is among the most versatile of the lot and among the highest selling as well.

Helping Stray and Feral Cats

Do not feed stray cats. If you are feeding cats, put down only the amount the cats will eat in one sitting and remove the remaining food after 30 minutes. Keep the feeding area clean and free of trash; leftover food attracts additional cats and wildlife. Talk to your neighbours. Determine whether the cat is a pet, stray, or feral and if it has been spayed or neutered. If not, get it done.

A stray cat is a cat who has been socialized to people at some point in her life but has left or lost her domestic home, as well as most human contact and dependence. Over time, a stray cat can become feral as her contact with humans dwindles. Under the right circumstances, however, a stray cat can also become a pet cat once again. Stray cats that are re-introduced to a home after living outdoors may require a period of time to re-acclimate; they may be frightened and wary after spending time outside away from people.

The opportunity to touch is available with a stray cat since there is a possibility of it approaching you
crouching low to the ground is a common behaviour in feral cats
most stray cats live on their own
there is a feral colony in which a feral cat may be a part of
it is very rare for a feral cat to make eye contact.

Since it is difficult to determine each cat’s socialization during a stressful event such as trapping, it’s a good idea to observe cats on their own outdoors using the guidelines below. Remember that these guidelines are not hard and fast rules and that just one of these traits is probably not enough to draw a conclusion. Bottom line: if a cat you don’t know approaches you or if you can touch her, she is most likely not feral. Not all stray cats will do this though, especially at first—each cat will act differently in a variety of situations.

How the Problem of Feral Cats Multiplies

There are many reasons why feral cat problems are rarely solved by efforts to trap and remove them. Feral cats live at a certain location because a food source and shelter are near. If a colony is removed, some feral cats from surrounding colonies may move in to take advantage of the newly available resources. The cycle of reproduction begins all over again if all the cats in a colony are not trapped. The ones left behind tend to have more kittens. In addition, more kittens will survive because there are fewer cats competing for the available food.

From little to big, there are many ways to help stray and feral cats. Here are some, beginning with the one you can do at home:
don’t contribute to the problem. “it goes without saying that you should spay and neuter your own cats,” says Linda p. Case, ms, author of canine and feline behaviour and training: a complete guide to understanding our two best friends. She also suggests keeping your cat indoors — not only for their safety but also to prevent them from getting lost and ending up part of a feral colony.

Our pets are the ones we care for day and night inside our homes or yards. They are a responsibility that is very personal, and though they might disturb our immediate neighbours a little, they shouldn't be a bother to everyone. I appreciate your genuine concern in feeding feral cats but consider the problem you’re contributing to the next time you want to feed feral kittens at your apartment building.

Allowing your cat free roam of outside poses many problems for both your pet and your community. Like Conniff's cat lucky, other outdoor cats can easily be killed from other predators or become the victims of a wide variety of tragic accidents. The domestic cat is not native to most ecosystems, so their “natural” environment is not the outdoors (Duffy & Capece, 2012). Outdoor cats are the direct cause of the overpopulation of the feral cat community, contribute to the spread of diseases and reduce small animal populations.

Wild in the Streets: The Life and Health of Stray and Feral Cats

Cats can smell such urine from a distance. However, domestic cats are the most vulnerable to these disease attacks. I made a video of how i am attempting to keep the stray cats out of my yard. These are mostly nontoxic as well as cost-effective ways to tackle the problem. Reason: it is a cat’s natural instinct to dig in soft or loose soil, moss, mulch, or sand. Quick tips: put out fragrances that keep cats away. Additionally, if caretakers want to go the extra mile, it is possible to treat feral cats with the same types of flea medicine as a house cat—just bear in mind that feral cats cannot usually be handled.

When you see a cat roaming the streets, your first instinct might be to put out a tin of food or a bowl of water. After all, seeing animals without a home or caregiver is hard. However, before you put out that tin of food, you should know that feral cats (free-roaming or stray cats) are often safe and healthy despite living in the wild. Studies have shown that community cats actually have healthy body weights in spite of their lean physique. Feeding feral animals can also affect our ecosystem, including the promotion of disease and aggression.

longhair-feral -cat-

Why Feral Cat Adoption Is Not an Option

In the long term, TNR lowers the numbers of cats in the community more effectively than trap-and-kill. Good samaritans in neighbourhoods all across the country provide food, water and shelter for community cats, and TNR provides a non-lethal, humane way to effectively manage these community cat populations. In some programs, friendly cats or young kittens are pulled from the colonies and sent to foster facilities for socialization and, eventually, placement into forever homes. Stopping the breeding and removing some cats for adoption is more effective than the traditional trap-and-kill method in lowering the numbers of cats in a community long-term.

Because we’re so soft and good-looking, you humans always want to pick us up and hug us. We say approach with caution. Some cats are ok with snuggling, but many do not like to confined in any way, including in your arms. You may not recognize these subtle ways that your cat is showing affection. Try us out, but as soon as we struggle or protest, put us (gently!) back on the ground. Never, ever pick us up when we’re sleeping or eating. When it comes to your kissing us, we cats are frankly baffled by your behaviour.

It is important to use several techniques to keep feral and stray cats out of your yard. While one tactic may be effective against one cat, using several techniques can be more effective to keep other stray and feral cats from moving in when the first cat has moved out. Other options include:
designing landscaping specifically to discourage cats. Sharp foliage with strong odours, thorny bushes, stinging plants, and sharp-edged mulch can all be part of a bird-friendly landscape that discourages cats.

Kittens are cute and cuddly, but they can get into a lot of trouble. For this reason, you will need to resist the urge to give kitty free run of the house, no matter how cute they are. “carefully confine them to a small room, like a bathroom, and clear the room of anything harmful,” Becky Robinson advises. It’s also important to ensure your cat has room to hide and flee if it comes down to it. I cannot stress this enough: never ever corner a semi-feral. Becky Robinson explains why.

Ways You Can Help Stray and Feral Cats

It is possible for a stray cat to adapt to staying around people which makes it a common practice to adopt stray cats as pets
adult feral cats are impossible to adopt since they are not socialized. In most cases where animal control picks up such a cat, they are killed. The degree of socialization is important in applying the trap-neuter-return technique in cats. Stray cats often get adopted while feral cats are released outdoors.

Bottom line: if a cat you don’t know approaches you or if you can touch her, she is most likely not feral. Not all stray cats will do this though, especially at first—each cat will act differently in a variety of situations. More monitoring using these guidelines may be necessary to determine if the cat is socialized.

Cats naturally tug at heartstrings with their big eyes, comforting purrs, and high-pitched meows. Furthermore, cats and kittens always seem to be desperate for homes. Because cat litters can come from multiple sires, it’s common for thousands of strays to be found in and around the same neighbourhood. However, you should be aware of some precautions before welcoming a stray cat into your home.

Stray cats can readjust to living with people and can be adopted as companions. Adult feral cats are not socialized to people, which means they cannot be adopted. As a result, they are likely to be killed if picked up by animal control or brought to shelters, so it is in their best interest to continue living outdoors. Stray and feral cats can be difficult to tell apart, especially when they are trapped or frightened. Scared stray cats often need time to relax and show their level of socialization. Learn more.

Vicenza, Italy — along our journeys in Europe and even in our own communities we see many cats, kittens or dogs lounging in the sun or rubbing against a well-intentioned person's leg. Our children, or even we, may have an urge to pet or feed these adorable creatures. However, capt. Rachel Cheramie, environmental science/engineering officer and chief, environmental health usahc-Vicenza, warns us to stay away. While many people naturally love cute fluffy cats, sweet dogs and tiny woodland rodents, these stray animals are not like our domestic pets. What many don't consider is that the seemingly docile stray animals do not receive veterinary care and are not immunized or treated for a host of dangerous parasites and illnesses such as rabies.

Never feed at night. If you want to feed twice a day that is fine but make sure to always pick up all food after an hour. Feeding at night attracts raccoons, foxes, and other wildlife to your feeding area and neighbourhood. This can be unsafe to the cats and people in the area. Never leave food out all day. This attracts predators and insects and is a waste of food. Only give enough food for the cats to eat in an hour, usually 1 cup of dry per cat.


people Also Ask: Google



A feral cat is a cat who has either never had any contact with humans or her contact with humans has diminished over time. She is fearful of people and survives on her own outdoors. A feral cat is not likely to ever become a lap cat or enjoy living indoors.



10 sq km Behaviour. Feral cats are mostly solitary and their home range can be as large as 10 sq km with males typically having larger home ranges than females. The size of their home range also depends upon the amount of food available within it.



Stray cats tend to rely on humans—living close to them, seeking cat food and exhibiting friendly behavior like meowing or rubbing against legs. Feral cats , on the other hand, are more elusive, avoiding human contact and living together in close-knit “colonies.” Feral cats will attack humans and pets.



The lifespan of a feral cat is often stated as only 2-3 years. Not in our experience. Many caretakers know of free-roaming cats that reach 12 to 15 years of age .


Are feral cats dangerous?

Feral cats live a dangerous and short existence because of the threats from fighting, disease, and often traffic. They can rarely be domesticated, and may carry diseases such as toxoplasmosis or cat scratch fever, both of which affect humans.


Can you domesticate a feral cat?

Many experts agree that feral adult cats simply can ‘t be tamed . They are wild animals, like raccoons. They tend to stay away from humans, hide during the day, and when adopted, are very difficult to socialize. Just like you would never try to handle a raccoon, you should never try to pick up a feral cat .


How can you tell if a cat is feral?

Stray cats are active during the day while feral cats are primarily nocturnal. Stray cats could look dirty and disheveled but feral cats could have a clean, well-kept coat. Many cats you find may have one of their ears cut or tipped.


What does it mean when a cat is feral?

A feral cat is a cat who has either never had any contact with humans or her contact with humans has diminished over time. … A feral cat is not likely to ever become a lap cat or enjoy living indoors.



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