Difference Between Stray and Feral Cats

Animals are classified or segregated into two types that are domestic animals and wild animals. Wild animals grow and live in the wildlife and are quite ferocious whereas domestic animals are taken care of by their human owners and are friendly.


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Domesticated species of animals are classified into feral animals and stray animals.

Stray vs Feral Cats 

The difference between stray and feral cats is that the latter refers or directs to cats that are either abandoned or lost the way to their house whereas the former refers to or represents cats that are un-owned by humans and live on their own without human help or concern.

Stray vs Feral Cats

Stray cats are those cats are were initially owned by humans and taken care of by their owners but due to some reason, they were either abandoned, lost their way home, or left their home.

They lack the experience of hunting and searching for food to feed themselves. They gradually start losing contact with humans as time passes.

Feral cats are those types of cats that have rarely experienced human contact. They generally avoid humans touching or handling them and are quite defensive and careful.

These cats hunt their food on their own and depend on no one to feed their stomachs. It lives outdoors and hides from humans.

Comparison Table

Parameters Of ComparisonStray Cats Feral Cats
DefinitionThese are friendly animals that were previously owned by pet owners at one point in their life.These are un-owned animals that don’t live in houses owned by humans.
PersonalityStray cats are either scared or approachable. It depends on the cat’s past experiences. Feral cats are often scared and defensive. They run away from humans.
DangerStray cats are friendly and don’t have a problem with a human touch.Feral cats are quite dangerous abs ferocious. They don’t like a human touch.
Population Count There are approximately 200 million stray or abandoned cats worldwide. There are approximately 400 million feral cats in the world. 
BreedsSome of the famous stray cat breeds are:
•Norwegian Forest Cat
•Maine Coon
•British Shorthair 
Some of the feral cat breeds are:
•Native Billi Cat
•Himalayan Cat

What are Stray Cats?

Stray cats are social cats. They were pets and owned by pet owners at some point in their life. These animals were either abandoned or lost their home and hence started living outside their house. 

Stray cats are quite friendly and aren’t scared of humans. They find it tough or difficult to stay without human care as they were used to humans taking care of them. These cats find it difficult to hunt for their food and feed their stomachs.

A stray cat would soon turn into a feral cat if it doesn’t experience any positive human interaction. Stray cats allow people to touch them but will turn into feral cats if humans don’t socialize with them for a long time.

A stray cat can easily turn into a pet cat if it is given human attention, love, and care. 

Stray cats are quite vocal and meow when in contact with a human. These cats move around with their tails up in the air and quite often make eye contact with people. They don’t crouch like feral cats. These cats live up to a maximum of 8 years.

There are certain diseases or infections that affect stray cats. Some of these diseases are:

  • Rabies
  • Tapeworm 
  • Hookworm 
  • Cat scratch disease 

What are Feral Cats?

Feral cats are hostile and defensive animals that don’t like a human touch. They run away when people approach them and hide from human beings. They are not sociable animals. These animals are not owned by humans.

Feral cats breed immensely which leads to a feral cat population rise. A number of animal shelters carry out neutering programs in order to maintain a stable population of these cats.

Another way to control their population spread is by euthanizing a few feral cats.

Feral cats are often found to be in groups that are called colonies. A conflict occurs whether there is a hierarchy system followed within these colonies.

There is another colony that is managed by animal shelters called “managed colonies”. These colonies provide food, water, shelter, and care to feral cats.

Feral cats feed on small-sized animals that could either be vertebrates or invertebrates. They feed on pigeons and rodents (like mice and rats).

These cats often prey on native species of birds and rodents. They fall prey to large birds, feral dogs, coyotes, caracals, and dingoes.

Feral cats rarely turn into friendly cats. A feral kitten might grow into a friendly feral cat if it receives a positive human interaction from the beginning of its birth. An older feral cat’s behavior is difficult to mend.

Main Differences Between Stray and Feral Cats

  1. Stray cats are quite friendly and harmless while on the other hand feral cats are quite unfriendly and ferocious.
  2. Stray cats have experienced human interaction in their past while on the other hand, feral cats haven’t experienced human care or interaction.
  3. Stray cats walk with their tails being straight up in the air and walk like house cats whereas feral cats have a crouched posture.
  4. Stray cats are either abandoned cats or they are cats that have lost their way to their home whereas feral cats are cats that are not owned by pet owners and don’t live in houses.
  5. Stray cats are not very scared of humans whereas feral cats run away when a human tries to approach them.
Difference Between Stray and Feral Cats


  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/0168159185900097
  2. https://avmajournals.avma.org/view/journals/javma/225/9/javma.2004.225.1377.xml
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