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​The Difference between Feral and Stray Cats

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Stray and feral catsDo you have a strange cat lurking in your garden? It’s not uncommon. There are millions of cats in the UK and sometimes they decide to investigate new spaces. These cats could belong to one of your neighbours, but sometimes they will be strays or feral cats, but how do you tell the difference?

Stray Cats

  • Strays have lived in a home and will have been socialised with people in the past
  • The stray has either been abandoned or lost their homes
  • They will have lost contact with humans and be more independent
  • Stray cats can usually settle back down into a domestic setting, given the right circumstances
  • They might be afraid or wary of people initially until they’ve had time to reacclimatise

Feral Cats

  • Feral cats will never had close contact with humans
  • Sometimes a stray cat can become feral if they don’t have contact with humans for a long period of time
  • They can survive outside on their owns
  • These cats are often very scared of humans and will not want contact
  • A feral cat isn’t likely to settle into home life or bond with humans
  • Feral kittens can be adopted and settle into home life

Telling the Difference

Why is it important to know the difference between a stray and a feral? One of the most important reasons is that feral cats are often put to sleep if they are taken to a rescue centre as they aren’t suitable for adoption. This means it is far better for the feral cat to remain living wild rather than being handed in.

Telling the difference isn’t as difficult as you might think. A feral cat is not likely to come up to you or allow you to approach it. Stray cats will often happily walk up to doors, porches, cars and people because they are acclimatised to them, feral cats are more likely to hide and stay out of the way of humans. You might also see a group of cats, these are most likely to be feral and they can create colonies, whereas stray cats are more likely to be on their own. Another indicator is the body language of a cat. Feral cats will sometimes crawl or crouch, keeping their body ow to the ground. Stray cats will probably display body Language you’re familiar with, confident walking and a raised back tail to signal hello.

Protecting Your Cat and Garden from Stray and Feral Cats

Cat fence

Feral cats can cause territorial problems and you might find your cat is distressed by having one or more venture into their space. Diseases and infections will also be a concern, which is why you may be considering using a pet containment system. Our cat fences and barriers not only prevent your cat from venturing into danger, they also can be used to stop other cats and predators from gaining access to your outside space and your pet. Call us on 01782900117 to learn more about the options available.


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