And Meow, A Word About Feral Cats

Did you know that October 16th is National Feral Cat Day? There are far too many adorable kitties out there fending for themselves. Here, a Tampa, FL vet discusses feral cats, and offers tips on helping them.

Feral or Stray?

There aren’t any physical differences between feral cats, stray cats, and housecats. The main distinction is how tame they are … or aren’t. Feral cats are completely wild, and are often very wary of—or even aggressive towards—humans. Stray cats, however, have been around people before, and can be quite friendly. Many stray cats are actually former pets who were lost or abandoned. There is one interesting difference between pet, stray, and feral kitties. Only domestic cats walk with their tails up. Stray and feral cats usually let their tails droop. No one is quite sure why this is: it seems to be some form of kitty status marker.

TNR Programs

One of the best things you can do to help feral cats is to support local Trap/Neuter/Release (TNR) programs. These are aimed at curbing pet overpopulation, which is a huge problem. As you may know, TNR programs trap kitties, fix them, and then release them again. Typically, the cat’s ears are notched. This helps identify what kitties have been fixed and which haven’t.

Fixing Felines

A single pair of cats can have as many as 11,606, 077 descendants in just nine years. That’s a lot of kitties! Make sure your feline pal doesn’t contribute to those numbers. If Fluffy hasn’t been fixed yet, we recommend getting this done ASAP.


Adoption may seem like a purrfect solution for helping feral kitties, but that isn’t always the case. It can work for kittens, if they are young enough to still be properly socialized. (Needless to say, giving a wild, hungry kitten food, water, proper medical care, and some ear scritches can work wonders on their cattitude.) Adult cats are a different story, however. Although it’s not impossible for feral cats to adapt to being pets, it isn’t guaranteed. Some of them never get used to using litterboxes. Others are simply too skittish. It really just depends on the cat. Feral cats can make absolutely wonderful barn cats, though. After all, they’re great mousers!

Please contact us, your Tampa, FL vet clinic, for all your pet’s veterinary care needs. We are here to help!

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