F: Feral versus Stray Cats

A2Z-BADGE [2016]

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.



14 thoughts on “F: Feral versus Stray Cats

  1. Excellent post. I am hooping the feral cat that I took in was actually a stray and will decide to trust us. I am hopeful because when he was caged, I was able to pet him and he didn’t slash out or hiss. I love Alley Cat Allies, I try to donate to them a few times a year.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting. We got our cat from a rescue, but was definitely home cat. She was bullied in her former life by the other cats in her house, or that was the story the owners told the rescue – in fact she had constant diarrhoea and we think this had more to do with her being rehomed. I kept a food diary and realised she was allergic to maize which was in every cat food at the time (this was 12 years ago). At long last after 3 months and her becoming very ill, I found ONE food she could eat with no maize and she’s never looked back. Now loads of food have no maize in. ~Liz http://www.lizbrownleepoet.com

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Just stopping by on the A to Z Challenge (using my Sunday to make up for my hectic week volunteering at my kids’ school). I love cats. We have 3. One of them was abandoned as a kitten and found our doorstep. It took weeks to get her to trust us and to come inside. That was 7 years ago.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I understand about the Sunday catch up! I’m doing that myself. I’m glad to hear one of your three is a rescue. Yes, they can take a bit more time, energy and love before they’re trusting and happy. I’m glad it was a success story for you…and her.
      Happy A to Z’ing!


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