Understanding the Behavioral Patterns of Feral Cats

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Feral cats are those that have never been in the presence of humans. So, they often feel threatened by them and live in places without human intervention. Nonetheless, they need love and care, too. Given their uncertain behavior, caring for them might not always be possible. Therefore, understanding the behavioral pattern of feral cats is essential to take good care of them.

If you want to understand the behavior of feral cats, you will have to understand in bits and pieces, like analyzing their social pattern, food habits, schedule, appearance, and pregnancy and nursing behavior. So, in today’s article, we will break down each behavioral pattern to help you understand a feral cat in the best way possible.

Is a Feral Cat’s Behavior Different from a Stray Cat’s?

Distinguishing between a feral and a stray cat is not simple. At times, they might display similar behavior. The one thing you can do to differentiate between them is to hold your hand out or call them out. If the cat comes to you, it is a stray cat. But it is a feral cat if it doesn’t come closer, back away, or hiss at you.

What are Some Distinct Behavioral Patterns of a Feral Cat?

People looking to help feral cats or are into wild cat management often are confused about how to approach a feral cat. Thus, knowing about their behavioral pattern becomes essential.

Here are some crucial behavioral patterns observed in feral cats.

Social Pattern

The social pattern is how a feral cat reacts when it runs into a human. These cats try to stay as far as possible from a human. But if they come into contact with a human, they threaten the person by hissing or pushing their claws out.

Feral cats do not encourage strangers to come close to them. So, if you want to help them, do not approach or touch them if they have their claws out. Instead, visit them daily from a distance so they can eventually understand that you will not harm them.

Eating Pattern

Feral cats live out in the wild and therefore hunt for their food. They mainly feast on insects and rodents. These cats also kill and devour snakes, lizards, hares, moles, etc. Ferals generally find water from different sources like a puddle, a birdbath, etc.

A feral cat must eat 9 mice to be satisfied and remain full throughout the day. So, to help them meet their dietary requirements, you can offer food to feral cats by keeping a neat bowl in their hiding space. You can check out Amazon Basics Gravity Pet Food Feeder. Since it is lightweight and not so expensive, you can buy multiple feeders to help more feral cats with a constant food supply.

Body Language

Knowing the body language of feral cats is of utmost importance. If a wild cat has its tail in front of its body, it means that it is wary of you and is protecting itself. It also means they are not open to trusting you.

Another thing to notice is that feral cats won’t make a sound. They won’t purr or meow like stray or domestic cats. They will simply stare at you. This is because they try to gauge your further actions and if they are safe for you or not.

Their Schedule

Unless they hunt for food, you will hardly find a feral cat roaming about during the day. They prefer the nighttime for strolling. Night hours also help find them food like mice and other rodents that can be found near garbage bins or by the gutter.

Their Appearance

Feral cats are cleaner in their appearance, with a well-kept coat, despite living in the wild. They might have a bruise or scar from being part of a wild catfight.

Besides, if there is an ear tip, chances are that it is a feral cat under a TNR program.

Their Behavior During Pregnancy and Nursing

When a feral cat becomes pregnant, it might come out more often in search of food. Besides, it will more likely hide and look for a safe place to give birth as the delivery time comes nearer. Post-delivery, these wild cats nurse their kittens like any other cat. However, they do not stick around for long.


Feral cats are distinguishable based on their behavior alone. However, it might take time to understand the behavioral pattern before deciding to help out a wild cat in need. Remember, if you want to help a feral cat by adopting the creature, it might take time for the cat to break its existing behavior and fit into the typical feline behavior.

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