It’s not uncommon to see outdoor cats around your neighborhood or town. You can encounter them running across the street, hear them yowling in the middle of the night, or even see them sitting on your back porch wanting to be fed. While some cats you come across are actual pets that people allow to roam around outside, a majority of these cats are either stray cats who are lost or were abandoned or they are feral cats that are theoretically wild animals.
So how do you tell the difference between stray cats and feral cats? Well, stray cats can coexist with humans and aren’t scared to be around them. They are usually seeking food and exhibit friendly behavior. Feral cats, in contrast, tend to avoid human contact, live in colonies, and are more elusive.
Some cat lovers who come across a feral cat or a community of them may feel the need to adopt these cats and bring them into their homes. One famous example of this is Catwoman and her many adopted “street cats” that live and fight crime with her. Contrary to what Catwoman is portraying, you should not try to adopt a feral cat-like Isis because they will just try to fight the dogs of Batman and Superman.
A feral cat hasn’t been exposed to humans as a kitten, which means that they will always lack the skills to live in a home and could have a very stressful time if you do bring the cat inside. They could also cause a lot of damage to your home and possibly harm your other pets who get close to it.
You shouldn’t try to take the adult feral cat to a shelter either as they have a high risk of being euthanized. What you should do instead is locate your nearest Trap-Neuter-Return program. TNR programs are designed to trap feral cats, spay or neuter them, vaccinate them and return them to their colony or territory. TNR programs are vital to controlling the feral cat population in your town as well as reduce the cat’s chances of contracting and spreading diseases.
While you shouldn’t try to bring an adult feral cat into your home, it is possible for a young feral kitten to become a house pet. If they are a well-socialized kitten that is under 8 months old, they can eventually be transformed into a nice, loving, and socialized cat. The kitten may take a couple of weeks or months to completely warm up to you as a caretaker, but eventually, they will be acting like any other housecat.
A stray cat, however, can be turned into a house pet because they have lived in a home or with humans in the past. They usually know how to coexist with other animals and have the mannerisms of a typical pet.
While you may feel bad seeing a feral cat outside and exposed to harsh weather, you shouldn’t try to make an adult feral cat into a house pet. They simply want to avoid humans at all costs and live the life that they are used to, outside.