31. Feral cats

Feral cats are domestic cats which have not been socialised to people or the domestic environment and live in the wild. Stray cats, in comparison, are domestic cats which have been socialised to people and the domestic environment, but have since become lost or abandoned.

In certain situations, feral cats can live in groups (called colonies) if there are sufficient resources for them.

Colonies of feral cats are generally born into a group scent and can live in harmony with one another if there are sufficient resources (food, water, toileting and sleeping areas). They are usually groups of related females, with males living towards the edge of the colonies.

There will be social interactions such as mutual grooming and rubbing which maintains the sharing of the ‘group scent’ but they will continue to hunt, eat and toilet alone, and see off any intruder cats that try to enter their territory.

A feral colony

Size of feral colonies is dictated by the resource availability.

Image author - Cats Protection/Ian Macfarlaine, licence - CC BY-NC-ND 2.0