A feral cat is a domestic cat that has returned to the wild.
It is distinguished from a stray cat, which is a pet cat that has been lost or abandoned, while feral cats are born in the wild. The offspring of a stray cat can be considered feral if born in the wild.
Feral Versus Stray
The term “feral” is sometimes used to refer to an animal that does not appear friendly when approached by humans, but the term can apply to any domesticated animal without human contact. Hissing and growling are self-defense behaviors, which, over time, may change as the animal (whether “feral” or “stray”) begins to trust humans that provide food, water, and care. Feral cats that are born and living outdoors, without any human contact or care, have been shown to be adoptable and can be tamed by humans, provided they are removed from a wild environment before truly feral behaviors are established. Such behaviors are established while it is still a kitten being raised by its mother.
What is Trap, Neuter, Return?
Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR), is a method of humanely trapping unaltered feral cats, spaying or neutering them, and releasing them back to the same location where they were trapped.
TNR is promoted by the ASPCA as a humane and more effective alternative to euthanasia for managing and reducing feral cat populations. This procedure has been proven to work by stopping the birth of new cats in the colony and letting the colony members live out their lifespan, approx 3 years for outdoor cats, with their own group. It helps to reduce companion animal overpopulation. Most countries have a surplus of companion animals and are forced to euthanize or disregard their great suffering.