Sneaking through back alleyways and abandoned lots, millions of feral and stray cats make their homes in our cities and rural areas. Often fearful of people, these “wild” cats are blamed for everything from decimating bird populations to killing sea otters. What’s the truth behind these feral felines and why are some people so determined to save their lives?
Cat lovers are abundant across this country as is evident by the more than 80 million pampered felines sharing our homes. But, living outdoors is another huge population of cats that has far fewer admirers and lives in constant danger of imminent death, usually at our hands!
There is no way of knowing for certain, but experts estimate that the feral cat population in North American equals or even exceeds the “owned” cat population. A feral cat is one that is unsocialized to humans and actively avoids contact. Stray cats, on the other hand, are often ones that have left home or are cats that have been abandoned by their owners. These “strays” will often approach humans and even allow petting. All cats, feral, stray and owned cats who are simply roaming the neighborhood are all members of our domestic species, Felis catus.