What is a Feral Cat?

A feral cat is unsocialized and avoids human contact. It may have been born outside and learned from its mother to avoid people.  It may have been harmed and now mistrusts all other animals.  Even if it had been someone's pet at one time, it may have lived outside so long that it is now feral.  Whatever the reason, these cats are most comfortable outside and do not make good pets.  Best case scenario for them is to belong to a colony (a group of cats) with a responsible feeder.  A person that not only consistently provides food but also practices TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return).  If outdoor cats are not sterilized, more feral kittens are born and the cycle continues.

What is a Stray Cat?

A stray cat is socialized and may have at one time been someone's pet.   Being forced to live outside and fend for itself has a traumatizing effect on these animals.  When abandoned or accidentally lost, many are incapable of finding food or adapting to the unpredictable circumstances.  They may be able to develop a bond with humans, if they feel safe, but that trust may not be easily won.  These cats must be evaluated individually to establish whether they can ever be indoor pets again.

The truth is, we should forget these labels and recognize that these animals are community cats.  It's in everyone's best interests to handle the overpopulation issue as a community.  We are ALL responsible for homeless pets and there will be no solution until we address it together. 

If you have found a cat or a group of cats (a colony), and want to improve their lives, please contact Cat Network (
www.catnetwork.org) or Alley Cat Allies (www.alleycat.org).

Alley Cat Allies

Alley Cat Allies (ACA) is the only national organization dedicated to improving the lives of outdoor cats and eliminating lethal animal control policies that kill virtually all feral cats entering shelters and animal control agencies. ACA consults with public officials and animal control officers across the country to help develop and implement municipal TNR programs.

Alley Cat Allies is also a vast resource for individuals caring for outdoor cats, whether you are a beginner or a seasoned pro. You can find an extensive library of fact sheets and information at alleycat.org. ACA can also provide you with a list of feral cat groups, veterinarians who spay and neuter feral cats, and individuals in your area who can help you with advice.



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