are ferals and strays the same thing? - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-01-2012, 01:23 PM Thread Starter
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are ferals and strays the same thing?

I always thought feral and stray were interchangeable terms for cats that don't have homes, but it seems like on this forum, some people use the terms interchangeably, but others don't.
Just curious.
I was reading the feral stories, and it reminded me of a stray cat that came around when me and my brother were kids. He was a tabby and we called him Tigger. We assumed he was a stray because we knew all the neighbors' cats and dogs at the time and he was one we'd never seen before. Plus, he was very skinny, and his stomach was bloated. He was super friendly, though. As I'm reading the stories of strays/ferals on here, it seems like they're not always so friendly and don't like human contact. But Tigger did. We would pet him and pick him up and everything. He didn't come around every day, and we didn't always leave food out for him- we would only bring food out when he came to our house. We had a cat already, so my parents wouldn't let us bring him in the house and keep him. So we would give him food and affection when he came by. Eventually, he just never came back. I don't remember how long the time period was that he was coming around, but like I said, it wasn't every day. It was kind of sporadic. So we never got super attached to him. But after about a month of not seeing him, we wondered where he was, and then he just never came back. I still wonder sometimes what happened to him. Maybe another family took him in. Hopefully.
But thinking back on how friendly he was, I wonder if he used to belong to someone and they just left him or stopped feeding him.
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-01-2012, 01:29 PM
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Feral cats aren't used to human contact. They usually have lived outside their entire lives with no human contact which then causes them to be very smart about not letting a human near it. That's why you hear so much about trying to trap ferals and trying to socialize them.

Strays on the other hand might love people and come right up to you. They most likely had a home and humans at one point but escaped or got dumped.
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-01-2012, 03:45 PM
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I hope the kitty found a great home...

A lot of people confuse the two or think they're interchangeable but if you're more in the cat world and really look into the definitions, it goes something like this:

Feral: Born on the street by a feral mother and raised to avoid humans like the mother does and hunt for their own food. Have no very little to no human contact.
Semi-feral: Used to be owned by someone but thrown on the street and from over time having to fend for themselves or from previous abuse from people, or both, they have reverted to a feral state. Taming these cats sometimes may take as long as taming a feral (and some feral cats can't be tamed), but since they've had previous interaction with people them becoming tame is a lot more likely.
Stray: They've been thrown on the street or become lost and don't have what it takes to fend for themselves. They haven't lost their trust in people, they should be willing to walk right up to you with very little previous interaction, within a few weeks of feeding them if not right away.

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Last edited by Carmel; 02-01-2012 at 03:47 PM.
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-01-2012, 04:16 PM
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my first (and still existing) cat: Was born in an alley, spent his first nine to ten months playing in alleys and backyards with other cats that had no owners, ate from random food bowls set out by people, had absolutely no fear of me and in fact walked right up to me and followed me inside on a snowy day.

Was he feral? Nope, he took to me instantly and slept with me on the couch the very first night. Was he a stray? Nope, he was an alley cat with no one to claim him. *shrug* dunno what you're supposed to call him.

Nine years later he's a full time indoor cat. He's the black one, Oscar.

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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-01-2012, 05:53 PM
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I don't really know what you would call my Phantom. She was born "in the wild." Same colony that my Mooch came from. Phantom got pregnant. Walked into my former neighbor's house. Never had a previous "owner." Gave birth and never left. She only trusts a couple of people. Very skittish towards everyone else. Mooch was orphaned as a kitten. At 3 weeks of age (approximately), she walked up to me, crawled up my legs, into my arms and the rest is history. The colony that they came from is well taken care of. The cats really do not like humans. I have possibly the only two of that colony that actually likes people.
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