People often confuse the terms, feral and stray. Sometimes the words are even used synonymously. But a feral cat and a stray cat have entirely different stories to tell and utterly dissimilar ways of telling that story.
A stray is a cat who once had a home. She knew people from the time she was born. Then something happened – maybe she ran from a dog and couldn’t find her way home; maybe she was abandoned – and her world turned upside down. Suddenly this pet cat is cast outside to fend for herself. In her experience, food comes in a bowl, not in a living package that runs away. Some strays fare better than others: Some find a new person, move in on a porch or back yard; others are so traumatized that they fail to thrive. But a stray will remember human affection, and if she feels safe, will welcome it again. When adopted, she will settle and put her journey behind her.
A feral cat is one who has never had human contact. These kitties are born in the wild from feral parents. They live in colonies with a hierarchy. They fend for themselves. Though they will accept food from humans (caregivers), they will never fully trust. They are quick to hiss and dart; one hint you’re watching and they’ll be gone, fading back into their urban forest like their wildcat cousins. Though not impossible, it’s rare to transform an adult feral cat into a pet. Until recently feral cats were euthanized (and still are in some uncivilized mindless heartless holes of depravity). A so-much-better solution is TNR, (Trap Neuter Return), where ferals are humanely trapped, altered to curb overpopulation, and returned to their colony to live their untamable lives.
Get more handy cat tips and read a cozy cat mystery at the same time. Watch for Cats’ Eyes: A Crazy Cat Lady Mystery by Mollie Hunt on Kindle.