If you’re anything like me, when you see a cat on the street you have a tendency to want to call it near you. While many cat keepers prefer to keep their cats exclusively indoors, there are some cat people that allow their cats to roam freely. Although this is a personal preference that a cat owner cat decide for themselves, it is much different than a stray or feral cat.
By definition, (in layman’s terms) a stray cat is a cat that is tamed and likely once had a loving home–i.e. a tamed domesticated feline. A feral cat, however, is a cat that is not tamed and has not had much interaction with a human in their lifetime, however long that lifespan may be.
Feral and stray cats live a rough life, exposed to the harsh elements of the environment and their health is also at risk due to lack of veterinary care. There are a great number of TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) programs that help to serve the immensely overpopulated stray/feral cat community and for that we are very grateful.
See the image below, this is how you can tell that a feral or stray has been “marked” by a T-N-R program…
Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR), the humane approach to addressing community cat populations, works. It saves cats’ lives and is effective. TNR improves the lives of cats, addresses community concerns, reduces complaints about cats, and stops the breeding cycle. TNR improves the co-existence between outdoor cats and humans in our shared environment. This is why so many cities are adopting it.
Please note: All sterilized cats have tipped ears. This makes it possible for caretakers to differentiate between cats that have already been sterilized vs. the ones that have not been sterilized yet.
How can you tell the difference between a stray and feral cat should you encounter one? Chances are, the feral will keep a comfortable distance between you and them, and should not, for any reason, feel an inclination to be petted by you. A feral can, however, take notice of you should you have food that they might want. A feral cat is a predator animal that is often forced to eat whatever they should find. Should you attempt to come near a feral cat, they are likely to run or hiss.
Many strays are not cared for when it comes to necessary medical care, but many kind-hearted folks in the world have a heart for strays and will feed them as a means to “help” them out.
For a stray cat that is friendly and seeks out human contact, it’s best to find a way to bring these cats in to your local veterinarian to scan for the possibility of a microchip. A friendly stray could easily be a pet that is lost and unable to find their way home. If you take this stray cat to a vet and find out that they are not microchipped, consider posting on a missing pets site online, like Petfinder, Craigslist, or Tabby Tracker.
Interested in Helping Stray And Feral Cats? Here’s How You Can!
Want to do your part for the influx of cats on the streets that desperately need to receive the services of TNR programs? Consider checking out these TNR programs and perhaps you too can make a difference by having these feral and stray cats spayed or neutered to help reduce unwanted litters. Many of these programs also help to get these cats without a loving home medical care that they need to live a healthier life.
Here’s a shortlist of some reputable TNR programs to choose from:
For us cat lovers that have the means to care for unwanted/unclaimed stray cats that we encounter, consider adopting them yourself or finding someone who can. Stray cats are often cats that were loved and would have it in their hearts to receive love again. Life is all about second chances, and you may be the key to giving a lonely stray the second chance they’ve been searching for.
REMEMBER: ADOPT, DON’T SHOP; FOSTERING SAVES LIVES & SPAY AND NEUTER!
Related Video: How to Make a Feral Cat Shelter