What are feral cats?
Feral cats are cats who are not owned and are not sufficiently socialized to humans to be candidates for adoption. Feral cats are the end result of owned pets who were not spayed or neutered, and then escaped or were allowed to roam. Feral cats can cause neighbourhood problems as they forage for food, and when they display noisy mating behaviour. Residents are also disturbed by the number of ferals that sometimes congregate together in family or social groups known as “colonies”.
The growth in the number and size of these colonies is due to unrestrained reproduction, which produces litters of kittens for whom homes cannot be found, and who can’t be accommodated in already overcrowded animal shelters.
What are stray cats?
Stray cats are cats who were previously owned, and who have sufficient potential for re-socialization, making them suitable candidates for adoption. They are pets who got lost or were abandoned by their owners. While feral cats must be taken in as young kittens if they are to be socialized and adopted, it is often possible to re-socialize mature stray cats, permitting them to live with humans again.
What are feral colonies?
Feral cats often live together in social and family groups called “colonies”. Colonies can be as small as 2-10 cats on residential properties, or as large as 50-100 cats in urban industrial and public areas.
The cats form close bonds with each other and will often defend the colony’s territory from other cats who might seek to access their food and shelter. “Managed” colonies are those that benefit from the attention of caring humans or “caretakers”. Caretakers feed the cats and provide shelter and veterinary care, including spay/neuter surgery, which reduces or eliminates nuisance mating behaviour and prevents more unwanted kittens from being born.