Feral cats aren’t as friendly and approachable as socialized pet cats. The latter are comfortable and fully domesticated to be around humans. On the other hand, feral cats aren’t accustomed to being around humans and are considered wild. But, how do you identify semi-feral cats? How are they different from wild/feral cats? Semi-feral cats have the characteristics of both pet cats and feral cats. They might keep their distance but might vocalize if they are around humans. Chances are, they might even make eye contact.
If you are wondering how you can identify a semi-feral or stray cat, let us learn the signs of a semi-feral cat.
How Are Feral Cats Different From Stray/Semi-Feral Cats?
In most cases, stray cats and pet cats are accustomed to being around humans. On the other hand, this isn’t the case with feral cats. While they socialize with their feline community & bond with one another, they don’t share the same feelings for the humans.
In simple terms, semi-feral cats are called community cats. They are not owned by humans & live outdoors. A community cat can have a broad range of socialization and behavior. But, the gist here is that they don’t like living indoors & cannot be adopted easily.
Stray vs Feral
Semi-feral cats might or might not have lived indoors, but they do have a certain level of socialization or interaction with humans. Even if the stray is an abandoned pet, if they live away from humans for a long, they become strays with time. They might even turn feral depending on the environment they have to sustain in.
While feral cats need a lot of time to get accustomed to a new home with humans around, strays might find it easier to get accustomed. Kittens that are born to a feral cat can surely be accustomed to living with humans as a pet. It is recommended that you don’t try to socialize any feral kittens aged beyond 4 months. Socializing can be a time-consuming process, especially if the kitten is older than this recommended age. Moreover, results aren’t guaranteed.
Does Understanding The Difference Between Feral And Stray Cat Matter?
If you wish to bring home a stray or semi-feral cat, it is important that you understand the best ways to categorize them. Once you know whether your cat is stray or feral, you can dedicate your time and energy accordingly to socializing them.
Semi-feral cats can easily readjust to sharing their space with people. They are great candidates for families looking for a pet, given they have the means and time to adopt and foster the stray. If you have plans to adopt one make sure you get a good-quality cage for the initial training stage. The BestPet 3-Tier Cat Kennel is spacey enough to allow your pet to move around and be comfortable. This metal cage is ideal for kittens and cones with 2 resting platforms and metal ladders.
Feral and stray cats are difficult to differentiate from far. This is especially true if they are frightened or trapped. If you simply walk up to a cat and start petting them, you might end up with scratches and bites on your body.
So, it is important that you give them some time to relax and show their individual levels of socialization. Adult ferals have never socialized with humans. This means they cannot be a part of an indoor environment. So, they might end up in shelters or be caught by local animal control when complained about. So, they prefer living outdoors and far from human interaction.
Signs That Help Differentiate Between Feral, Stray, and Pet Cats
When you catch or trap a cat, it can be very stressful for the feline for quite some time. So, it can be difficult to determine the cat’s socialization status.
So, the key is to observe these cats when they are in their natural environment.
Socialization With Humans
Feral Cats: These cats won’t approach humans in any way. They will seek close by hiding places in order to avoid humans.
Stray Cats: These cats might approach houses, cars, people, or porches.
Socialization With Other Cats
Feral Cats: Feral cats might belong to a certain colony or group of cats.
Stray Cats: Stray cats most likely live alone and won’t be a part of any feline group.
Body Language Of Feral Or Stray Cats
Feral Cats: If you study the body language of a feral cat, you will observe that they may crouch, stay low, or crawl. They would also try and protect their body using their tail. They are highly unlikely to establish eye contact with people around them.
Stray Cats: Most stray cats tend to move or walk around in a manner that is similar to a common house cat. This includes subtle body movements such as gazing at you, making eye contact, or blinking. If the cat tends to walk with its tail up, it denotes that it might be friendly.
Feral Cats: Feral cats don’t beg, meow, or purr.
Stray Cats: On the other hand, stray cats might be vocal around you. They might meow or even answer your voice.
Feral Cats: Ferals are most likely nocturnal in nature and tend to come out occasionally in the daytime.
Stray Cats: Strays are visible primarily during the day and occasionally at night.
Apart from these, here are some more traits that explain the differences between a semi-feral and a feral cat.
|Categories||Feral Cat||Stray Cat|
|Physical Appearance||Clean and well-kept coat |
Male ferals have a big and muscular body
Might have scars from indulging in territorial fights
|A disheveled and dirty coat |
Might be neutered under local stray population control programs
Won’t have any ear tip as a mark of neutering
|Touch Barrier||Might not like being touched |
Even if you are a caregiver, touching feral cats might be risky
|Don’t like being touched right away |
Takes some time and trust to allow being touched
|Cage Behavior||Stays back and inside the cage.|
If frightened, might rattle, shake, or climb on the cage
Might get injured in the process
|It will try to gently come to the cage’s front section |
Might also try and rub the body against a cage
|Relaxation Level||Will stay unsocial and tense for a long time||Will eventually relax faster than a feral cat|
When dealing with semi-feral or feral cats, make sure you practice caution. You might be at risk of getting bitten. Worst yet, you might also get infected from the bite or scratch. When getting close to a semi-feral cat to catch it, make sure you do that with the help of a professional cat catcher. Be patient and slow as you approach the cat for the very first time.