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Monday, July 21, 2014

Feral or Stray–that is the question

And the answer is, Stray. I’ve been tossing the word feral around to describe this beautiful little cat that has adopted us, but having now done some in depth reading, it’s now more apparent that Radar is not feral at all.

The term feral is used so often now, that anyone seeing a cat wandering around not appearing to belong anywhere must be feral. Not necessarily so. A friend sent me a link to the rescue group in her area of Pennsylvania and since reading on that site, the difference between feral and stray, I now “get” the difference between the two.

Quoting from Alley Cat Allies, a site I found last night, this is their definition of the difference between the two types of cats.


  • A stray cat is a cat who has been socialized to people at some point in her life, but has left or lost her domestic home, as well as most human contact and dependence.
  • Over time, a stray cat can become feral as her contact with humans dwindles.
  • Under the right circumstances, however, a stray cat can also become a pet cat once again. Stray cats that are re-introduced to a home after living outdoors may require a period of time to re-acclimate; they may be frightened and wary after spending time outside away from people. ·
  • Another definition that may help:
    - “A stray cat is a domestic cat that has been abandoned or has ‘strayed’ from home and become lost. Stray [cats] were once pets and they can usually be successfully rescued and placed in homes.” – Stray Cat Handbook


  • A feral cat is a cat who has either never had any contact with humans or her contact with humans has diminished over time. She is fearful of people and survives on her own outdoors. A feral cat is not likely to ever become a lap cat or enjoy living indoors.
  • Kittens born to feral cats can be socialized at an early age and adopted into homes.
Why does it matter?
  • Stray cats can readjust to living with people and can be adopted as companions.
  • Adult feral cats are not socialized to people, which means they cannot be adopted. As a result, they are likely to be killed if picked up by animal control or brought to shelters, so it is in their best interest to continue living outdoors.
  • Stray and feral cats can be difficult to tell apart, especially when they are trapped or frightened. Scared stray cats often need time to relax and show their level of socialization. Learn more.
  • Trap-Neuter-Return takes into account each cat’s level (or degree) of socialization to determine the best environment for them. Feral cats are returned to their outdoor home after being trapped and neutered. Socialized cats and kittens can be adopted into homes.”

Radar is definitely not feral, he is just a sweet little boy who has had to “make” it outside for a very long time. Some people’s perceptions of cat ownership are different, but the bottom line to having a healthy loving and non aggressive cat is simple basic training and providing a safe and loving environment to call their home. They are no different than us, we all need to that sense of comfort and belonging.

Since he’s been with us, I’ve made up some toys for him. Toys are necessary to encourage play time. I’m in the process of making some cat nip mice. He has others that he flings up in the air and pounces on them.

He now knows that outside at night is no longer an option, he has a curfew of 10 pm and seems to have an internal clock to let him know it’s time to come in. He is getting better at sleeping through the night without that need to be out on the prowl.

He had a hacking cough when he first came back and I was worried that he might have asthma or a heart issue or something terrible, but then I noticed that he only seemed to do that at night. I came to the conclusion that it was a stress reaction. It appears that i was right, because the coughing has stopped and he isn’t panicking when he sees movements in the dark.

Lots of changes and in a positive way. One thing that I have been giving him at night to help, are these one a day chewies from our local pet store. Calming

He is going for his meet and greet with the vet soon, and am sure he will get the all clear.

If you live in the Pennsylvania area, this the site my friend sent me. The Hundred Cat Foundation and be sure to watch the video at the bottom of the main page.

There is also Jackson Galaxy who has a good handle on the felines in our lives.

So that’s the latest from my desk. Have a wonderful week…

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