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The Feral or Ferrell Cat - What are they and what can we do about stray cats?
What is the difference between a Feral Cat and stray cats?
It is important to realize that a ferrell cat is not the same thing as a stray cat.
Feral cats are the offspring of lost or abandoned pet cats or other feral cats who are not spayed or neutered. Females can reproduce two to three times a year, and their kittens, if they survive, will become feral without early contact with people. Whereas stray cats are accustomed to contact with people and are tame, feral cats are not accustomed to being in close contact with people and are typically too fearful and wild to be handled. Stray cats may be reunited with their families or adopted into new homes but, feral cats do not easily adapt and may never be able to adjust to life as a pet and living with people.
What is a Ferrell Cat?
The Ferrell Cat
The average life span of a feral cat or ferrell cat that survives beyond kittenhood is about two years for individual cats and five years for cats in a managed colony. An indoor domestic house cat lives an average of 12 to 18 years.
.It is estimated that there are currently 60 million feral cats living in the US today.
Female Feral Cats
Female cats can have as many as three litters of kittens per year with a gestation period of approximately 65 days. This means that a female cat and her offspring can produce as many as 420,000 cats in as little as seven years.
Feral Cats Reproduce
Where do feral cats live?
Feral cats may live alone but are usually found in a large group called a feral colony – a group of related cats. These colonies tend to meet two essential criteria: a good hiding place (often a small wooded area, or abandoned buildings or cars) and a food source.
Many feral cats don't survive. If they do survive, their lives can be very difficult without human caretakers. Females can become pregnant as young as 5 months of age and may have two or three litters a year. The process of being pregnant so young and so often, coupled with delivering and nursing their litter, puts even more stress on the female cats who are struggling just to survive. More than half of these kittens are likely to die without human intervention. Male cats are also at risk. They roam and fight to find mates and defend their territories, as a result they may be injured and transmit diseases to one another through bite wounds.
Ferrell cats are often without a reliable source of food and shelter. They deserve to be taken care of just as much as the kittens who live with us; they are often victims of abandonment, accidental loss, and failure by owners to fix their pets.
TNR – Trap-Neuter-Return
Trap-Neuter-Return is a non-lethal method used to reduce the number of feral cats and improve their quality of life. At a minimum, feral cats who are TNRed are spayed or neutered so they can no longer reproduce. They are vaccinated against rabies, and surgically ear-tipped on one ear (ear-tipping is the universally-recognized sign of a cat who has been TNRed).
Once a cat or colony of cats has been TNRed, a dedicated caretaker provides food, water and shelter. The caretaker monitors the cats for sickness and removes new feral cats for TNR or new tame cats for possible adoption. TNR is a strategy that many dedicated caretakers pay for out of their own pockets to help improve the lives of feral cats and reduce their numbers. Without TNR and a dedicated caretaker, the population of the colony would continue to increase.
Cats - Feral and Domesticated
Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) Cat
This Feral cat was sterilized through a Trap-Neuter-Return program. The cat is shown recovering in a humane trap after spay surgery and was later released at the site of trapping.
Note notch at tip of the cat's right ear, marking it as a sterilized feral cat.