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Feral Versus Stray

What's the difference?

Maybe you discover a cat outside and you wonder, is this cat a stray or a feral cat? Maybe you are not even certain of the difference.

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.

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.

Strays have left of lost their indoor home, as well as their human dependence.

A Feral Cat is a domestic cat that:

• Was lost or abandoned.

• Has reverted to a wild state.

• Was born to a stray.

• Had a feral mother and little to no human contact.

" A feral cat is defined as a cat that chooses not to interact with humans, survives with or without human assistance, and hides or defends itself when trapped rather than allowing itself to be handled." Wikipedia

Signs you can look for to help you know:

Stray: Might walk and move like a house cat, such as walking with tail up; a sign of friendliness. Will probably look at you, blink, or make eye contact.

Feral: May crawl, crouch, stay low to the ground, and protect body with tail. Unlikely to make eye contact.

If you are thinking about approaching an unknown cat you find outside, be cautious. Cat bites and scratches can be harmful. Follow the lead of the cat and if it is friendly to you, take your time and get to know it to build up trust. Stray cats may tolerate touching while feral cats will not – not even by a caretaker who feeds it.

How can I help?

The best way you can help Community Cats ( Feral) is through Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR). TNR ensures no new kittens are born, stabilizes cat populations, provides vaccines, and improves cats’ lives. It also stops the behaviors and stresses associated with mating such as yowling, spraying, and fighting. A step by step guide.

With a stray, begin by leaving food out for it at the same time each day. As it comes around more, slowly get to know it until the trust is there and you can pet it. If you’re thinking about taking it into your home, be sure to take it to a vet first for shots, neutering, flea treatment and a health checkup. Read More


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