What does feral cat mean? How are they different from stray cats?

It's possible that you've heard the word "feral" used to refer to "stray" and "outdoor" cats, but this is not a fair comparison. So what precisely makes up a feral cat, then? Feral cats are characterized by a distinct set of traits; they are thought of as wild and, frequently, cannot be satisfied living indoors. They typically spend their entire lives outdoors because of this, which might cause controversy.

A Feral Cat: What Is It?

Feral Cat

Unsocialized by people, a feral cat serves as a free-roaming cat. Cats with good social skills appreciate new things, people, and different animals. Mama Cat will teach the kittens pleasant life skills if she is socialized. Cats are not naturally feral at birth. It is a learned trait, and socialization is crucial for kittens in the early stages of life, when they are most susceptible to learning (2 to 9 weeks old). At that time, kittens have a tendency to be receptive to novel situations and form favorable associations with unfamiliar objects.

After this time, cats can still learn new things and form good connections, but it could take a little longer. The longer the process to socialize the cat, the longer it goes without human contact.

What might a life without socialization look like? Not because they are cruel or malicious, but rather because they act more like a wild animal than the affectionate domestic cat we are familiar with.

What sets a feral cat apart from a stray cat?

Feral Cat

In contrast to feral cats, which lack socialization, McDowell claims that stray cats become lost and abandoned by their owners. But Kelly notes that there are other varieties of cats that roam freely. There are several different types, and not all of them are wild or abandoned.

Check the cat's collar or microchip if it is a nice stray. She might be a neighbor's belongings, misplaced, or abandoned.

Community cat: Cats in communities don't typically have traditional owners. Instead, they are looked after by society as a whole and might even be friendly.

Friendly wild cats may be fairly trusting of the person who provides them with food if they have had little socialization through feeding. However, they haven't been socialized enough to take pats.

True wild cats lack socialization, remain on high alert, or are afraid of people. They typically flee at the very first sight or sound of people.

Any of these free-roaming cats might end up in a colony of feral cats or in a group of cats that are normally bonded with their family. (A mother cat, her kittens, and then their kittens, and so on.) Other wandering animals may enter the colony if there is a consistent food source.

In a single year, female cats may give birth to up to three litters of kittens and can get pregnant as early as 5 months of age.

Is it possible to domesticate a feral cat?

Feral Cat

Sometimes—with a tonne of patience and time. A feral cat may require years to domesticate. Additionally, some feral cats might never become friendly with people.

In social contexts, food works best as a negotiating strategy. If you choose to give food to feral, stray, or colony cats, be cautious. Only give them food in the morning that the cats can consume in a short period of time. Feeding at night will draw scavenging animals like raccoons, skunks, and rats, so avoid doing so.

When caught and given the appropriate care as kittens, feral cats stand the highest chance of thriving as household pets. Contact a nearby animal shelter or a trap, neuter, vaccinate, and return (TNR or TNVR) programme if you see roaming kittens, cats who haven't had their ears tipped, or cats that look to be pregnant.

Helping a neighborhood's feral cat

Stray Cats

There is no denying that stray and feral cats lead difficult lives. Many wild cats don't live beyond the age of two due to the dangers of living outside, but domestic cats can live for more than 20 years. Spaying and neutering indoor cats as well as neighborhood cats that roam freely is an initial step in assisting stray animals.

Having a humane TNVR trap on hand does not necessarily assist in spaying and neutering neighborhood cats. Inform people about the necessity of vaccinating, spaying, and neutering cats. Encourage your community to support low-cost spay or neuter hospitals, and think about providing food to those who look after established colonies of spayed and neutered animals.

You can also support local feral cats by:
1: Supplying wholesome water
2: Feeding just a little bit in the mornings
3: Making your own cat shelter at home or buying an all-weather cat housing
If you come across a stray cat or kitten and aren't sure how to help, call your neighborhood shelter.

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