F: Feral versus Stray
What’s the difference between a feral cat and a stray cat? Aren’t they both the same?
No, they’re both cats, but feral and stray cats behave differently towards humans. Allie Cat Allies explains it best. They say:
What is the difference between a stray cat and a feral cat?
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.
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. ·
Another definition that may help:
– “A stray cat is a domestic cat that has been abandoned or has ‘strayed’ from home and become lost. Stray [cats] were once pets and they can usually be successfully rescued and placed in homes.” – Stray Cat Handbook
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.
Kittens born to feral cats can be socialized at an early age and adopted into homes.
For more information on the differences between feral and stray cats, check out their excellent site, Alley Cat Allies.