Do You Know The Difference Between ‘Feral’ and ‘Stray’ Cat?

My goal in life is to inspire others to help animals whenever they can. So if you notice a cat in need, don’t hesitate to help it. However, it is better for you to know whether you are dealing with a feral or a stray cat. Knowing this distinction can help you make a more informed decision about how to help the kitten.

Biologically speaking, there is no difference between feral and stray cats. The difference is in their behavior.

Feral Cats

These kittens didn’t have socialization of any kind with human beings during the first months of their lives. A kitten learns to distinguish between friend and foe from a very early age. It benefits kittens to have good interaction with people because they will learn to see them as a source of comfort, food, protection, and not as a potential threat. Feral cats can behave more like wild cats than domestic. So only one question remains… Can you tame a feral cat? YES! Despite the fact that it is a slow process and requires a lot of knowledge about the behavior patterns of felines, as well as a lot of experience, it is absolutely worth it! You can consult someone more experienced that can help you with this process. The younger the kitten- the better. Experts think that if you encounter an adult feral cat, it is best for the cat to be left feral because the process may be stressful for it. All you can do is provide the feline with food and shelter and it will live a long and happy life.

Stray Cats

This is a cat that lost its home. This kitten has had the socialization needed to become familiar and accustomed to humans. It may be lost or abandoned by its owners. You can help a stray cat if you find a home for it. This feline may be able to survive on the streets but the best option is to find a good home for it. If a stray cat is abandoned by its previous owners, then it needs to be re-homed. If you happen to find a stray cat just take it into your home, be careful not to let it play with your cats for the time-being. First, see if the cat is lost or abandoned, try and locate its previous owner. Other options are to look for a good forever home or adopt the cat yourself (your felines will be thrilled with their new friend). If none of these options work, you can always contact the local pet shelter… Just don’t leave the kitten to wander the streets all alone.

How to make a difference between a stray and a feral cat?

Sometimes the distinction may be very easy to make… If you recognize a pure-breed cat than it is more likely to be stray than feral. Generally speaking, stray cats are usually neutered because owners decide to do this to balance their hormonal behaviors- this is not, of course, a rule. Stray cats are usually underweight and may look sick (it is harder for them to survive on the streets), but even if a cat is groomed and appears healthy it may still be a stray that recently got lost or was abandoned. The best clue is the feline’s behavior. If a cat is friendly then it is a stray, and if it tries to avoid human contact at any cost then it is likely to be a feral.


There are some setbacks that make it harder for us to make the distinction. A feral cat may be friendly due to its socialization with a human caretaker, some even learn that they need to approach humans and show affection in order to get food ( these are sometimes called semi-feral cats). Another false clue may be due to the shyness of a stray cat so it can easily be mistaken for a feral. The bottom line is- the more experience you have the easier it is for you to differ a stray from a feral cat.

If you find a young feline, the distinction between a feral and a stray is less important so you won’t need much experience. Be aware of the existence of local feral cats organizations and don’t be afraid to ask for their help. Never hesitate to help a cat in need, regardless whether it is a stray or a feral.




A great cat lover and writing enthusiast. Combine them in a single person and you get me.

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