Stray and Feral Cats

STRAY AND FERAL CATS:   HOW TO TELL THE DIFFERENCE

Whether you are a shelter worker, veterinarian, a feral cat advocate- or you just share your neighborhood with feral cats-knowing how to determine a cat's level of socialization will help you decide whether she is better off returned to her outdoor home or adopted. Each cat will act differently in a variety of situations, so it's important to remember that these tips are just guidelines. Just one of the traits is probably not enough to draw a conclusion. However, if a cat you don't know approaches you or lets you touch her, she is definitely not feral.

 

STRAY  FERAL 
Socialization to Humans
May approach people, houses, porches or cars.   Will not approach and likely seek hiding places to avoid people.
Socialization to Other Cats
Will likely live alone, not be a part of a group. May belong to a colony.
Body Language
Might walk and love like a housecat, such as walking with tail up-sign of friendliness May crawl, crouch, stay low to the ground, and protect body with tail.
Will probably look at you, blink or make eye contact. Unlikely to make eye contact.
Vocalization
May be vocal, meow or "answer" your voice. Will not meow, beg, or purr.
Physical Appearance
Will probably have a clean, well-kept coat. Will probably be dirty or disheveled. 
Will likely have an eartip or he/she has been neutered  as part of a TNR program. Will not have an eartip.