Feral cats hold a special place in the hearts of many cat lovers across the globe. These kitties don’t rely on humans to get by, but many humans with a heart for cats in need make the conscious effort to try and give these cats a chance at a better life.
Through TNR efforts and caring for and feeding feral cats, these cats have proven to us just how resilient they are. Keep reading to learn facts about feral cats—some of which you may not have known…
#1 TNR Makes A Huge Difference In The Lives Of Feral Cats
Cats that are feral are naturally untrusting of humans. But, when kindhearted humans make the effort to Trap-Neuter-and-Return these cats back to their feral cat populations, it makes a huge impact by significantly reducing the number of unwanted litters of cats. How much so? Well, it’s said that in just seven years, two unfixed feral cats can produce up to 420,000 kittens.
#2 Oftentimes, Feral Cats Do Not Meow
Despite what many cat lovers might believe, cats mainly use those plaintive meows to communicate with humans—not each other. That said, this is the main reason you often will not hear feral cats meow. They make many cat sounds, but feral cats do not typically meow. They do not cohabitate with humans, so they never learned to meow to express their wants and needs to people.
#3 Although They Are Wild, Feral Cats Are Still Technically Domesticated Cats
While a feral cat isn’t going to cozy up on your lap while you’re reading a good book, these felines are still considered to be domesticated cats. Just don’t go try to pick one up or pet them if you see them, because you will scare them and a cat scratch from a feral cat can often lead to a nasty infection.
#4 Feral Cats And Stray Cats Are Two Totally Different Types Of Cats And Will Behave As Such
It’s important to note that feral cats have had zero to very few interactions with humans in their life. Whereas a stray cat once had a home and is naturally curious about humans given their previous interactions with them.
#5 Male Feral Cats Often Have Very Large Heads
Male cats which are desexed before reaching maturity will not have that alley cat look of a cat with a large, blocky head. Cat hormones are what create this pronounced appearance, and it’s suggested that these larger heads help to protect feral cats during territorial battles with other alley cats.
#6 Feral Cats Are Accustomed To Living Outdoors And Prefer Things To Be This Way
In the wild, cats live outdoors. Feral cats might be small, but unless someone is leaving food out for them, they must hunt in order to survive. And because of this need for survival, this is why feral cats are content with living outdoors. It just comes naturally to them as it’s the only life they’ve ever known.
#7 Feral Cats Can Be Just As Healthy As Indoor Cats
With the proper nutrition and habitat in which to retreat from predators and humans, feral cats can often lead healthy lives. In fact, feral cats can survive in a variety of landscapes.
#8 An Animal Shelter Is Not A Good Place For A Feral Cat
As we mentioned above, feral cats might be domesticated in the technical sense of the word, but it must be known that these cats should be respected for the wild animals that they are. With that being said, these cats do not want to be held, petted, or handled by humans at all whatsoever.
This is why trapping them and trying to surrender them to a shelter is not an ideal thing to do to help them. Sadly, many cats which arrive at shelters will be euthanized due to limited funding and overcrowding. And surrendering a feral cat which is often deemed unadoptable often seals this fate.
#9 Feral Cats Will Appear Well-groomed With Nice Coats, Whereas Stray Cats Will Appear Unkempt And Disheveled
Life on the streets is very rough on a stray cat who once had a roof over their head and always knew where their next meal was coming from. And their coat certainly reflects their desperation. Feral cats, however, will appear well-groomed, with shiny coats that are well cared for.
#10 Feral Cats Can Be Tamed With Patience, Understanding, And Love
There are countless heartwarming stories of feral cats being tamed and going on to live out the rest of their nine lives in a pampered state. Curious about what steps to take in order to tame a feral cat? Read up on that here.
#11 Feral Cats Are Skilled Hunters
While you might share some of your cheese, yogurt, or cat-friendly fruits with your kitty cat, feral cats live on a diet that consists strictly of animal protein if they are not grazing on cat food that’s been left out by humans. Feral cats will do what they need in order to survive, and both male and female feral cats learn to become skilled hunters from an early age.
#12 Feral Cats Often Yowl At Night
If you’ve ever heard a cat in heat, then you know exactly what cat yowling sounds like. Since feral cats are often unneutered/unspayed, their hormones are strong and encourage them to seek out cat partners. Feral cats cry at night because they are in pain, hungry, fighting other cats, or simply because they are bored.
#13 Feral Cats Are Incredibly Territorial
One thing that feral cats are often well-known for is cat spraying. And feral cats rely on this territorial behavior as a way of telling other feral cats in their area to keep away or there will be consequences.
Once a feral cat establishes their home turf, they take things very seriously and are ready to defend their area on a dime. In addition to spraying, feral cats are quick to display classic aggressive cat behavior, such as hissing, scratching, growling, and biting.
#14 Feral Cats Are Often Classified Into Three Categories
Classifying feral cats is simple. Animal rescue experts categorize these wild house cats into three distinct groups: feral, semi-feral, and socialized.
#15 Feral Cats Are Afraid Of Humans For One Very Specific Reason
When cats are kittens, this period of their life is crucial for social development. From three to nine weeks of age, domesticated kittens learn socialization—and that humans are a good thing. For feral kittens, they have no interaction with humans during this pivotal stage in their early life. Thus, why they are naturally untrusting and wary of humans.
Wondering what’s the best way to feral cats? Offer them cat food! If you’re not sure which is the best to choose, check out this article here on Cats.com which details them for you.
Good article, except I would disagree with the first point of feral cats not having a home. They may not be “pets” in our home, but certainly have a location they consider home with their colony. An exception could be un-neutered males. That is why feral cats are very hard to relocate, they are attached to the place they were born and live. To them it is home. I run a feral cat rescue and have been feeding some of the same feral cats at their “homes” for years.
Huge numbers of feral colonies have caretakers just like me and they depend on humans for food and water. We name them, we talk to them, even though we can’t touch them. I currently live with 7 ex- feral cats. I didn’t intentionally try to socialize them. Each had a long term medical issue which required months of care. During those months, they socialized to me, even to the point of being a lap cat. Most still don’t meow, nor are they social with other folks. Just a few more tid bits from a gal who has lots of feral cats living on her property who call it home.
Brenda/ Front-Porch Felines
That’s an excellent point, Brenda. Editing the piece accordingly.