Frequently Asked Questions About Feral Cats

Is there a difference between stray and feral cats?
Yes. A stray cat is a domesticated pet that has been abandoned or strayed from home and become lost. Because stray cats once knew human companionship, they can usually be re-socialized for adoption. A feral cat (also known as a “free-roaming” or “community” cat) is born and raised outdoors with little or no human contact, or is a stray that has lived outside long enough to revert to a wild state. Adult feral cats usually cannot be tamed and are content living outside. Feral kittens up to eight or ten weeks old can often be tamed.

How can I tell if a cat is stray or feral?
A stray is likely to approach you, although usually not close enough to touch. If you put food down, a stray will likely start to eat it right away. A stray is often vocal, sometimes insistently. It may look disheveled, as if unused to dealing with outdoor conditions. A stray may be seen at all hours of the day.

A feral cat is silent, will not approach humans, and generally will be seen only from dusk to dawn unless extraordinarily hungry and seeking food. A feral is adapted to outdoor conditions and is likely to appear well groomed. If you put food down for a feral, it will wait until you leave the area before approaching the food.

Are feral cats likely to be sick and spread disease?
No. Scientific studies show that feral cats, especially those managed through TNR, generally have the same good health, fitness, and low occurrence of disease as pet cats.

Are feral cats more likely to have rabies?
No. Cats in general are much less susceptible to rabies than other animals. No human has contracted rabies from a feral or domesticated cat in four decades.

Whom should I contact if I need help with feral cats in my area?
In Llano or Burnet counties, contact Hill Country Cats. For other areas, see our Resources page or call us at 830-598-9883 for referrals.

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