What is a feral cat?

A feral cat is either a cat who has lived his or her whole life with little or no human contact and is not socialized, or a stray cat who was lost or abandoned and has lived away from human contact long enough to revert to a wild state. Feral cats avoid human contact and cannot be touched by strangers. While some feral cats tolerate a bit of human contact, most are too fearful and wild to be handled. Ferals often live in groups, called colonies, and take refuge wherever they can find food—rodents and other small animals and garbage. 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.


Are 'stray' cats and 'feral' cats the same?


No, stray and feral cats are not the same, and the terms "stray cat" and "feral cat" are not interchangeable. A stray cat is a domestic cat who was abandoned or strayed from home and became lost. Because a stray was once a companion animal, he can usually be re-socialized and adopted. Adult feral cats usually cannot be tamed and are not suited to living indoors with people. They are most content living in their established territory. Feral kittens up to about 8 to 10 weeks, however, can often be tamed and adopted. 


What is the average lifespan of a feral cat?

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 five years.


What is life like for a feral cat?

Feral cats often endure weather extremes such as rain and snow and cold. They also face starvation, infection and attacks by other animals. Unfortunately, almost half of the kittens born outdoors die from disease, exposure or parasites before their first year. 


Why are there so many feral cats?

Feral females spend most of their lives pregnant or nursing. In 7 years, one female cat and her offspring can yield 420,000 cats.


Is it possible to find homes for feral cats?

Generally, no. Adult feral cats usually cannot be socialized and will not adjust to living indoors. A great deal of time and effort can go into attempting to tame an adult feral cat, with no assurance of success. This time and effort is far better spent sterilizing feral cats to break the cycle of reproduction. See Alley Cat Allies' Fact sheet, "Why Trap-Neuter-Return is the Solution to Feral Cat Overpopulation and Trap Neuter Adopt is Not." Stray cats and kittens up to 8 or 10 weeks of age can usually be socialized and placed in homes.


Is it possible to move feral cats to a new location or to a barn?

It is very difficult to relocate feral cats. Feral cats are extremely bonded to their territories and will often try to find their way back home, and in the process, get killed by traffic, predators, or die from starvation, injuries, and the elements in their attempt to make their journey home.

Fortunately, there is a solution. Feral cat colonies can be managed with a non-lethal method called Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) in which cats are humanely (painlessly) trapped, spayed or neutered, and returned to their colony site where volunteer caregivers provide them with food, water, and if needed, shelter. Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) is the only chance feral cats have of living safe, healthy lives without reproducing.


How does TNR benefit a community?


TNR helps the community by stabilizing the population of the feral colony and, over time, reducing it. At the same time, nuisance behaviours such as spraying, loud noise and fighting are largely eliminated and no more kittens are born. Yet, the benefit of natural rodent control is continued. 






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Quadra Cat Rescue does not support the practice of declawing of cats. We have been asked by AdoptMe Canada to post a link to their anti-declawing campaign where a petition can be signed. Please click here to view it.


Quadra Cat Rescue
P.O. Box 192

Heriot Bay, BC 
V0P 1H0
250-285-CATS (2287)