Feral cats derive their title from the Latin word
"ferus", meaning wild animal. Feral cats were either born
in the wild, on the streets or have escaped their domestic lives
and become strays.
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Feral cats sometimes live in a colony and have little to no human
contact. They are not socialized to the ways of humans and this
gives them the inclination to be frightened of people, resulting
in anti-human behavior.
Taming a feral cat that has lived on the streets as a stray may
require a long introduction and trust-building scenario with a potential
caretaker over a period of time, in order to feel comfortable around
There are myths surrounding the idea of the feral cat. Many people
are under the impression that feral cats are a menace to humans
and will attack them. This is not the case as feral cats are frightened
and skittish by nature, since they live unstable lives with few
Myth Gone Wild ...
A feral cat, like any other cat when cornered, will bite or scratch
as a defense. Another myth is that feral cats will spread rabies
or other diseases to humans. According to a recent study by the
US Center for Disease Control, within the last 25 years, there
have been no cases of rabies being spread to a human from feral
Feral cats exist due to irresponsible cat owners allowing their
unaltered cats to reproduce and the resulting offspring are then
left to fend for themselves, out in the "wild" of the
When people do not take responsibility for their companion felines
by getting them spayed or neutered, they are contributing to the
feral cat problem that exists. Many feral cats are killed each
year in animal shelters because of careless owners. By not spaying
or neutering your pet, owners create millions of unwanted cats
that end up starved or dying in the streets.
Colonies of Cats?
Feral colonies of cats are eliminated by eradication programs,
when not adopted or taken in by kind humans and animal shelters.
These methods to reduce the population of feral cats are not always
Eradication programs remove the feral cats from their lairs, thus
reducing the competition for food amongst other strays. The feral
cats that remain on the streets will quickly replace the removed
felines by breeding a few times a year. This quickly brings the
colony back to its original number and the problem starts all
A Humane Society program that has seen some beneficial results
in controlling the population of feral cats is the Trap, Neuter
& Return (TNR) policy. When veterinarians capture feral cats
within a colony, they are taken to a clinic and spayed or neutered
and given a health evaluation.
When necessary, the very ill among the feral colony are humanely
euthanized and the healthier animals are given necessary shots
for diseases, treatment for parasites and ear-tipped for identification.
TNR Is TLC ...
These felines are then returned to their colony, thus limiting
the amount of reproducing that occurs and lessening typical annoying
behaviors such as spraying, urine odor, mating yowls and fighting.
In the United Kingdom, Denmark and South Africa, the TNR approach
has been employed with feral cats since the 1970s with positive