All About Feral Felines and Stray Cats 

Keep cats safe and the feral population down!

Both feral cats and strays are not uncommon to see in the Carroll Gardens area as a result of many factors, including cats that go unfixed.

At The Vet Set in Carroll Gardens, we love our feline companions, but it’s vital that we play a role in protecting the cat population in our community. Follow along in today’s post as we explore what we can do for both feral and stray cats roaming our neighborhoods — right now!

What is the difference between a stray cat and a feral cat?

Sometimes people use these terms synonymously, but at the end of the day, there is a difference. Let’s learn about the distinctions below.

Stray Cat – A stray cat is a cat that has been socialized with people at some point and has become dependent on them, but has lost its home. A stray cat can become feral the longer they go without human interaction; however, in the right home and under the right circumstances, a stray cat can become a pet once again.

Feral Cat – A feral cat is one that has never had any human contact or the contact it has had has been very limited. Adult feral cats, in most cases, cannot be adopted because they’ve never been socialized to humans and can become dangerous indoors, so keeping them outdoors is typically the best scenario.

How do you tell stray and feral cats apart?

It can be difficult in determining if there is a stray or feral cat roaming your neighborhood, but there are a few key features to consider.

Stray Cats

Stray cats will most likely approach people, houses, and other shelters and will be alone and not within a group of cats. They may also greet you with a “friendly” raised tail and be vocal to the sound of your voice.

These cats will also be out during daylight hours and may look disheveled or dirty.

Feral Cats

Feral cats will, at all costs, hide and seek shelter to avoid contact with humans, but unlike strays, they’ll live in a group or feral cat colony.

These cats, if you do encounter them, won’t show “friendly” body language and they will often stay low to the ground and protect their body with its tail. Feral cats won’t beg, meow, purr, or become vocal with humans, and they’re more likely to be nocturnal.

Their grooming habits are good, and they’ll look well-kept and clean.

The Importance of Neutering Feral and Stray Cats

While stray cats — because they’ve likely been socialized in a home as a pet — are more likely to be neutered, only 2% of feral cats are. This becomes a huge concern because overpopulation occurs, often resulting in a large number of euthanized cats because they can’t be adopted out.

This is where the Carroll Gardens community can get involved in population control for feral and stray cats.

Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR)

If you’re seeing an influx of street cats in your area, one of the most humane ways to manage these cats is through what’s known as the TNR method.

The cat colony is trapped and brought to a local vet clinic, where they are spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and ear tipped. You may be asking, what is eartipping? Eartipping is the universal sign that conveys that the feral cat has been fixed. This makes it easy for animal control and neighborhood residents to know if the cat has already been fixed.

As a result of the TNR, many feral cats can continue a life outside while the population or a cat colony drastically decreases because the cats are unable to reproduce.

This may also reduce nuisance behavior such as spraying and fighting, because mating ceases almost altogether.

Trapping Feral Cats

If you have feral or stray cats in your neighborhood, it’s important to trap them and get them the help they need — from spaying and neutering to adoption (stray cats). Below are a couple of tips to help you trap cats.

  • If you typically feed the cats, cease all feeding for up to 36 hours before you trap them — they’re more likely to trap when they’re hungry.
  • Inform your neighbors that you’re going to be trapping cats, so if they have an outdoor cat, they can keep it inside during this event.
  • Use food as bait. Cats love tuna and sardines, but any canned cat food will work. Place the food inside and in the area where the cat will activate the trip plate.
  • Help make the cat feel comfortable and less stressed by placing a sheet or blanket over the trap.

Feral and stray cats meander the streets of the city, so it’s important to reduce the cat population through spaying and neutering feral and stray cats.

To learn more about how you can help or to schedule an appointment, connect with our Carroll Gardens vet clinic today!

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