The word 'feral' means members of a domesticated species that have reverted to living as wild animals. While they are often mistaken for stray cats, ferals will have had little or no contact with humans and cannot be tamed.
Wondering how to tell the difference between a stray or feral cat? Take a look at our visual guide below.
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 2-6 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?
Despite 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.
Wondering how to tell the difference between a stray or feral?
Find out more about feral cats in our essential cat care guide.