Where Do Feral Cats Sleep?

Feral Cats

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A lot of individuals have diverse questions related to feral cats. One of these questions includes where exactly these animals sleep. This is because they are not like domestic cats that sleep in the home of the owner.

In this article, we shall be taking a look at all you need to know about a feral cat, their management, as well as where they sleep. But before we move on, let’s take a look at what feral cats are.

What precisely is a feral cat?

The term feral cat has meanings that vary between countries and professions. Most times it is switched with terms like free-roaming, alley, community, or street cat. A couple of these terms are used when referring to stray cats, however, feral and stray cats are typically considered to be dissimilar by researchers, veterinarians, and rescuers. Stray cats are cats that at one point were socialized and no longer reside in homes but have the possible ability to be successfully reinstated into a home environment.

Feral Cats

An article that was published in the Feline Medicine and Surgery Journal back in 2013, stated that veterinarians and rescuers based in the United Kingdom tended to differentiate domesticated cats from feral cats based on characteristics like their socialization levels, confinement, ownership, the level of fear they feel when they encounter humans, their dependence, and interaction with humans.

The journal stated that veterinarians and rescuers came to a consensus that feral cats were felines that had encountered very little human contact, especially before attaining the age of 8 weeks. These cats would try to evade humans and most likely preferred to run away rather than launch an attack on a human. That being said, rescuers and veterinarians could not agree if a feral cat would spit, hiss, or tend to attack when it interacts with a human. They also disagreed that adult feral cats could be potentially tamed.

The Article gave a complex definition of what a feral cat is, and that is a cat that prefers not to have any human interaction, can survive without or with human aid, and would defend itself or hide when trapped, instead of allowing itself to be touched by humans. United States veterinarians and rescuers took a survey and the results of the survey showed that there isn’t a definition of what a feral cat is that is widely accepted. Numerous facilities make use of waiting periods in a bid to find out if a cat is feral by observing if the cat has become less evasive and afraid over some time. Some other indicators consist of checking the response of the cat to being touched by inanimate objects and observing the cat’s social behavior in numerous conditions, such as near a human, in a quieter environment, responding to human touch, etc.

The ASPCA or American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals describes community cats as cats that were either birthed or raised in the wild or previously domesticated cats that had become lost or abandoned and had turned wild in a bid to survive. In Australia, the government states cats who have not received any human assistance or interaction from humans are feral, and cats that are not owned by anyone but rely on humans are stray or semi-feral.

Feral Cats Behavior

A couple of behaviors have been observed to be widespread in feral cats, even though there is often disagreement between researchers, rescuers, and veterinarians on the pervasiveness of others. Typically, in a free-roaming environment, feral cats evade humans. These felines don’t let themselves be touched or handled by humans.

Feral Cats

They either run away or hide when they are unable to run. Should they be trapped, they could show their teeth, growl, hiss, or even strike out. These feral cats try to remain hidden from humans and do not approach humans, nevertheless, some feral felines gradually become comfortable with the presence of humans that feed them regularly.


Feral Cat Colonies

Feral cats typically reside in colonies, which are groups of feral cats that reside together in a single territory, which is typically often near shelter and food sources. Researchers tend not to agree if dominance hierarchies exist within feral colonies and if they do, to what extent and how are they structured. Varying forms of hierarchies have been noticed in feral colonies, such as linear and despotic hierarchies.

Feral Cats

A couple of the colonies have a more complex organizational structure, like a relative hierarchy structure, where a cat’s social status varies on its location, the activity the cat is engaged in at that moment (such as mating and feeding, and the time of the day.

The moment a human decides to provide care for a feral colony, that colony gets referred to as a managed colony. The type of care given can include regularly providing water and food to cats, offering shelter, aiding with programs such as trap neuter return, offering consistent veterinary care, and locating foster homes for felines that can be socialized for probable adoption, and aiming to educate neighborhood people.



Feral kittens can be caught, socialized, and then given out to be adopted into homes. There is no consensus at the moment as to which age a kitten is then unable to be socialized, however, suggestions typically range from about 7 weeks to 4 months. Though older cats can occasionally be socialized, this process is not only difficult but extremely long and the result may not be the best as the cat on rare occasions becomes approachable and could even remain fearful.

A 2013 study taken of United Kingdom participants showed that rescuers were more willing to try to tame adult feral cats than their veterinarian counterparts. Vets tend to be opposed to this process as a couple of them have expressed concerns about how a cat like that would cope in a home environment. A 2010 study of United States rescuers and veterinarians showed that 66 percent of participants had programs to help socialize kittens and only 8 percent had them for adult cats.

Where do feral cats sleep?

As survivors, feral cats tend to live and reside in places they feel are safest. This could be under a porch or a deck, somewhere in a storm drain, in barns or buildings that have been abandoned, and pretty much any place that is secluded and typically free from the majority of human interaction. Numerous feral cats assemble in places that consist of other feral cats, however, this is not feasible all the time due to territorial squabbles, and competition for prospective mates.

Feral Cats

Feral cats are differentiated from semi-feral cats because semi-feral are typically used for human interaction and will sometimes greet humans with a characteristic figure 8 move or by getting even closer to them. These cats could have previously been abandoned by a former caregiver and then ended up living outdoors in a feral situation. They could have also gotten lost in their homes when they somehow ventured out.

There are a host of other reasons why this could have happened, but the fact is they are used to interacting with humans and if rescued can be taken indoors and rehabilitated. This process takes time and could sometimes be difficult, but it can be worth it in the end. Feral cats located in urban areas typically come together in just about any place they see as extremely safe. There have been cases where calls were put to emergency services requesting help from people who had spotted cats living on private or public property, near train stations, or anywhere.

What is the existence of a feral cat-like?

The majority of feral cats reside in colonies that are formed by a group of cats that are related. They typically occupy and protect a determined piece of territory, where a food source (which could be a dumpster or a human that gives them food), and shelter like a building that is abandoned are available. While feral cats could be seen by humans who feed them, strangers might not even be aware that feral cats are residing close by. Stray cats are typically more visible and might vocalize or approach people when searching for shelter or food. Stray cats might either become part of a colony or look to carve their territory and defend it.

Is a feral cat’s life essentially a negative thing?

Looking from the perspective of a human, feral cats that urinate and defecate in their yards or gardens, sleeping or laying on a car, and antagonizing a pet cat, are some of the biggest concerns. While a feral cat has a perspective that only considers it being fed and healthy, with freedom of movement. In addition to that, there are also things that both feral and pet cats own such as lounging in the sun, discovering the world, and of course, eating.

Animal welfare has overpopulation as its major concern. While there is no full statistic to check in the United States, the Humane Society of the United States states that only around 2 percent of the 29 to 40 million stray and feral cats have been neutered or spayed. These cats are responsible for about 80 percent of the kittens produced every year in the United States.

Management and Control

Feral cats are typically managed or controlled by numerous agencies in a bid to manage the disease, protect native wildlife, and preserve their welfare. Feral cats can be controlled by trapping and administering euthanasia or other types of lethal control. They can also be controlled through the TNR trap neuter return program.

The trap-neuter-return program requires trapping feral felines, then neutering or spaying the cats, only to return them to where they were first captured. When the cats are neutered, they get vaccinations against diseases and viruses like rabies, while also receiving other forms of medical care like parasite treatment and dental care. Numerous countries carry out TNR programs that are supported by numerous local and state municipalities.

Feral Cats

Some of these countries include England, Canada, the United States, and Italy. Advocates of TNR state that the program is very effective in discontinuing reproduction and also over time lowering the population. TNR programs being carried out mean that there are fewer nuisance complaints as disruptive and destructive behaviors reduce once the cats have been neutered, while their quality of life improves. The TNR process has also been described as money-saving while garnering more support from the public than programs that involve the culling of cats.

TNR advocates such as the International Companion Animal Management Coalition see the program as a human way to control the population of feral cats. The program is approved by the National Animal Control Association and the Humane Society of the United States. A study conducted in Australia in 2011 showed the requirement to oversee the effects culling programs had after infrared cameras noticed that feral cat cullings led to a growth in populations of feral cats in the areas where the culls were conducted. At this point, it was deliberated that only dominant felines were being trapped during those operations. After the dominant cats were removed, there was a rise of subordinate animals in that area and those cats did not venture into those traps as the dominant cats did. It was then shown that the cat populations returned to the original numbers in a year in those areas where the cull was carried out.

How effective both TNR and trap and euthanize programs are, is generally dependent on stemming the immigration of felines from uncleared areas into controlled or cleared areas. Nevertheless, in areas where immigration isn’t controlled or can’t be managed, culling is even more effective. Contrasts of varying techniques have also shown that trap and euthanize programs only cost half as much as TNR programs. An in-depth analysis of the two techniques in Hawaii showed that they are not as effective when newer cats are introduced due to pet abandonment. TNR’s usefulness is often disputed by a couple of conservation specialists and scientists who contend that TNR is a program that solely affects animal welfare while ignoring the continuing damage that is carried out by neutered cats. A couple of conservation scientists also question if TNR is effective in controlling large feral cat numbers and some have said studies that support TNR do so by using anecdotal data.


Feral cats deserve all the love they can get. Although lots of individuals might have diverse reservations when it comes to these cats, they can make the best pets if properly socialized and taken good care of.

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