Feral and Farm Cats

Feral and Farm CatsWhat are Feral Cats?

The word 'feral' means members of a domesticated cats that have reverted to living as wild animals and have had little or no contact with humans.

What makes a cat feral?

Cats learn what is normal at a very young age, during what is known as a 'socialisation period.' Between the ages of two to six weeks, kittens can learn to enjoy human contact, forming a bond and becoming great pets. Feral cats are usually the offspring of stray, feral or abandoned cats and have missed out on this early experience, making them likely to be wary of humans.

How can I care for a feral cat?

Feral Cat GuideDespite their wild nature, feral cats still need a level of care. With many ferals living in colonies, the cat population can grow quickly. Neutering and returning the cats to their colony stops continual breeding.

While most ferals are resourceful when it comes to finding food, it is good to keep an eye on them during the winter. If you suspect a feral cat is sick or injured, they can be trapped and taken to the vet.

What Canterbury Cats Protection Can do for Feral Cats?

Canterbury Cats Protection work whenever possible to rehome feral and farm cats if they are captured when they are very young (under 10 weeks of age).  If we are able to do this we can tame the cat and it can become a loving family pet.  Unfortunately outside of this narrow window of time it is impossible to domesticate these cats.  They cannot be tamed.

Canterbury Cats Protection practices a Trap, Neuter and Return policy on feral and farm cats. If the cats are neutered and released back into their environment they improve in health, condition and life expectancy.  If you know of, or are feeding a group of wild cats and would like us to help, there are a few conditions you need to fulfil.

  • If there are just one or two cats, we may lend you a trap along with instructions and we may ask you to trap them yourselves unless kittens are involved.
  • For colonies, we need to be granted access to trap in the cats territory. This usually means permission of the land owner or farmer.
  • Once we have trapped and neutered a colony, you must be prepared to accept them back if no alternative or better living quarters can be found for them, you must be prepared to continue to feed and watch over them and notify us of any problems in the future.

For more information about our work with feral cats, or to become involved yourself please call our branch line or contact us here. We are always looking for help with trapping and releasing as well as domesticating our rescued ferals.

Is it a Feral Cat or is it a Stray?

Feral or StrayIf you are unsure if a cat is a feral or a stray there is a handy infographic that can help you. Click here to see this.

A stray cat is a socialised domestic cat who doesn’t (or doesn’t appear to) have an owner. They’re likely to be alone and may often be friendly, if a little nervous.

A feral cat isn’t socialised to humans or the domestic environment, so they’re likely to be less friendly. Most will be fearful of humans and behave like a wild animal.