How can I tell if outdoor cats are stray or feral?

Becky Robinson, CatChannel expert on feral and stray cats, explains how to tell whether a cat is feral or stray.

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Q: How can I tell if outdoor cats are stray or feral?

A: To determine whether outdoor cats are stray or feral, establish a daily feeding routine — same place, same time — for at least two weeks. Watch the cats’ behavior.

Feral cats are not socialized and avoid human contact. Feral cats will run away if you approach or make eye contact with them. Even as you feed them, they may continue to avoid you. Feral cats live in colonies near sources of food and shelter. They develop strong bonds with other cats in the colony and are happiest living in their established outdoor home.

Stray cats, on the other hand, have lived with humans. A stray will let you get close and may even allow petting. Strays are usually vocal. They’re more curious than cautious. Stray cats often do not look as clean and healthy as feral cats because they are not accustomed to fending for themse

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