Feral, stray, and pet cats are all members of the same species; they are all domestic cats. But stray cats and feral cats are also different from each other in a very important way—in their relationship to and interactions with people. Some outdoor cats simply can’t adjust to indoor living. But you can still enjoy taking care of them and watching all their playful antics outdoors. You can make your outdoor cat’s life happier with a few small changes
Outdoor feral cats can have an impact on wildlife populations, especially when threatened and endangered species are concerned. Ground-nesting birds like quail or baby birds are particularly vulnerable. Even if your cat doesn’t stay indoors year-round, keeping them inside during dawn and dusk hours—and during the spring months, when wildlife and their babies are most active—can be helpful.
Although, Feral cats, are well-suited to living outdoors—usually in close proximity to humans—and can survive winter on their own. They are resilient and able to live and thrive in all varieties of locations, weather conditions, and climates. Feral cats can travel long distances. Scientists tracked a feral cat in the South Island high country that covered almost 6km in one night.
Average Lifespan of an Outdoor Feral Cat
Outdoor feral cats face more dangers than indoor feral cats, and this is why their lifespans tend to be shorter. They’re in danger of being hit by cars, ingesting something hazardous or encountering predators. You’re also more likely to notice health issues with your cat sooner if she’s living indoors. They’ve never been outside and have no desire to venture out. In fact, many become frightened if they accidentally wander out the door.
Outdoor feral cats tend to live an average of two to five years, sometimes longer. In contrast, feral indoor cats can live to be 17 years or older. If a feral cat survives kittenhood, his average lifespan is less than two years if living on his own. If a cat is lucky enough to be in a colony that has a caretaker, he may reach 10 years.
Preliminary data reveal that tom cats live the shortest, but neutering them increases their lifespan to that of a spayed female cat. Not all colony cats live to a ripe old age, but many live far longer than the urban myth projects.
The Life of an outdoor feral cat
Feral cats have never been cared for by humans and act terrified if you come near. Ferals are unlikely to adjust to indoor living. Stray cats might act similarly at first, but at one point, they’ve known human companionship. They’ll eventually warm up to you if you give them food and spend time outside with them while they’re eating. Let the stray cat make the first move, allowing him to sniff your hand before you try to pet him. With time and patience, your bond will grow.
Unlike pet cats which often don’t get on with other felines, feral colonies will often naturally develop. These are usually made up of groups of related females and the size of the colony is directly related to the availability of food, water and shelter.
A feral cat is “any cat who is too poorly socialized to be handled … and who cannot be placed into a typical pet home.” According to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, there are between 60 million and 100 million feral cats in the U.S. They are usually the offspring of cats who were lost or abandoned by their owners, and they grow up not socialized to humans.
They should not be confused with stray cats which were raised as pets but have since been lost or abandoned. Although stray cats can be scared of people due to their experiences, they can often be rehabilitated and go on to live life as a pet again. Sometimes farm kittens will have been handled and treated well by farm workers and children – enabling them to adapt to life in the home. These kittens would also not generally be considered feral.
Where do feral cats live Naturally?
Feral cats typically live in a colony – a group of related cats; and take refuge wherever they can find food—rodents and other small animals and garbage The colony occupies and defends a specific territory where food (restaurant dumpster or a person who feeds them) and shelter (beneath a porch, in an abandoned building) are available. Since feral cats typically fear strangers, it is very likely that people may not realize that feral cats are living nearby because the cats are rarely seen.
Feral cats often live in vacant lots, dodge cars, and eat from trash cans; face infection, disease, and an endless cycle of pregnancy; and suffer extremes in treatment and weather. The life of a feral, stray, or abandoned cat is often short, sometimes lasting for just two or three years. They will also try to seek out abandoned buildings, deserted cars, even dig holes in the ground to keep warm in winter months and cool during the summer heat.
Difference Between a Stray Cat and a Feral Cat
Feral cats are the offspring of lost or abandoned pet cats or other feral cats that is the result of pet owners’ abandonment or failure to spay and neuter their animals, allowing them to breed uncontrolled. A feral cat is primarily wild-raised or has adapted to feral life, while we define a stray cat as someone’s pet who has become lost or has been abandoned.
Stray cats are usually tame and comfortable around people. A stray cat is a pet cat that is lost or abandoned. Stray cats are accustomed to contact with people and are tame. They will frequently rub against legs and exhibit behaviors such as purring and meowing. In contrast, feral cats are notably quiet and keep their distance. Stray cats will also often try to make a home near humans—in car garages, front porches or backyards. Most are completely reliant on humans as a food source and are not yet able to cope with life on the streets.