The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : The Difference Between Stray and Feral Cats The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : The Difference Between Stray and Feral Cats

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Difference Between Stray and Feral Cats

The most common misconception with strays and feral cats is that they are “wild” animals. Feral and stray cats are both domestic animals, although stray cats are socialized to be near people and are typically the product of abandonment or getting lost and separated from their homes. Feral cats are cats that have had little to no contact with humans and act accordingly. They have strong family bonds and live in tight groups called colonies.

Cats become socialized when they interact with people and are held, spoken to, and played with from an early age. Since feral cats don’t get this interaction  feral cats have a natural aversion to humans and more often than not they cannot adjust to living anywhere but outdoors.

As for stray cats, over time they can become more wild as their contact with humans dwindle. But unlike a cat who was born into the feral lifestyle, stray cats have the ability to become house pets once again. By slowly re-introducing them to your home after living outdoors it may take awhile for them to acclimate, especially when they have been away from humans for a long enough period of time.

Despite the difference in social interaction, both types of cats live in a generally harsh environment. They have to hunt for food and shelter, or depend on the kindness of strangers. You don’t have to bring a cat into your home to protect it either! Building shelters, or making areas they stay more comfortable with blankets and food can make a world of difference. You can also look up shelters in your area to find ones that will offer Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) services to keep the population down.

It is important to know how to identify what type of cats you may see around you. Strays are much more likely to come to humans and can be easier to take to shelters or adopt. Feral cats should not be approached however, and should be handled by professional caregivers.  Here is a guideline that can help you decipher what type of cat you’re dealing with:

To find out more about handling and helping stray and feral cats in your area, go to The Humane Society’s website.


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