WHAT IS A FERAL CAT?
Feral cats are the same species as pet cats, but feral cats are not adoptable. “Feral” means that the cats are not socialized to people and generally avoid contact with humans. Through our Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program, these cats are neutered and vaccinated, stabilizing and decreasing the feral cat population. Feral cats in TNR programs are just as healthy as pet cats. They receive vaccinations and ongoing management from generous volunteers.
What is the difference between a stray cat and a feral cat?
Pet and stray cats are socialized to people, feral cats are not. While feral cats are socialized to their colony members and bonded to each other, they do not have that same relationship with people.
- A feral cat 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.
- Kittens born to feral cats can be socialized at an early age and adopted into homes.
- A stray cat 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. Under the right circumstances, a stray cat can become a pet cat once again.
- Stray cats re-introduced to a home after living outdoors may require a period of time to acclimate; they may be frightened and wary after spending time away from people.
- Over time, a stray cat can become feral as her contact with humans dwindles.
Why does it matter?
- 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 in managed colonies under supervision.
- 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 at www.alleycat.org/FauxFerals.