Stray vs Feral Cats: Difference and Comparison

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.

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

Key Takeaways

  1. Stray cats are lost or abandoned pets, while feral cats are born and raised in the wild with little human contact.
  2. Stray cats can adapt to living with humans, but feral cats remain fearful and aggressive towards people.
  3. Trap-Neuter-Return programs help control feral cat populations and prevent the spread of diseases.

Stray vs Feral Cats 

Stray cats are domesticated cats that have lost their homes, live on the streets, are friendly, and may approach humans for food and attention. Feral cats are not domesticated, have little or no contact with humans and are the offspring of abandoned or lost domestic cats.

Stray vs Feral Cats

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


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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 pretty defensive and careful.

These cats hunt their food independently 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 unowned animals that don’t live in houses owned by humans.Feral cats are quite dangerous abs ferocious. They don’t like the human touch.
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.There are about 400 million feral cats in the world. 
Population Count There are approximately 200 million stray or abandoned cats worldwide. Some of the famous homeless cat breeds are:
•Norwegian Forest Cat
•Maine Coon
•British Shorthair 
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. These animals were abandoned or lost their home and hence started living outside their house. 

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

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

A stray cat can quickly become a pet cat if given human attention, love, and care. 

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

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

  • Rabies
  • Tapeworm 
  • Hookworm 
  • Cat scratch disease 
stray cats

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 friendly animals. Humans do not own these animals.

Feral cats breed immensely, which leads to a wild cat population rise. Severalmal shelters carry out neutering programs in contain 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 managed by animal shelters called “managed colonies”. These colonies provide feral cats with food, water, shelter, and care.

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 prey on 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 positive human interaction from the beginning of its birth. An older wild cat’s behaviour is difficult to mend.

feral cats

Main Differences Between Stray and Feral Cats

  1. Stray cats are pretty 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, while 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 have 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
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