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Name: Flip
Breed: Domestic Shorthair mix
Sex: Male
Color: Black/White
Age: 9 years
Size: Large
ID: A22700172


A Free-roaming cat, also known as a community cat, is any cat roaming free outside. Free-roaming cats are generally either feral or stray. Trap-Neuter-Return is a system where feral cats are trapped, spayed or neutered, and returned to their original location

What is the difference between a feral or stray cat?
Feral cats are a descendant of a domestic cat that has never been socialized to people. These cats live where they find a source of food and shelter just like other wild animals. They are fearful of people and will likely never enjoy living indoors.

A stray cat is a domestic cat that has been abandoned or has “strayed” away from home, and become lost. They were once pets and can usually be adopted into a home. A stray cat that has lived outdoors for a while might need a little time to acclimate to home life again.

What happens to stray or feral cats?
Stray cats can be adopted into a new home by community members or through a shelter. Stray cats should be taken to a veterinarian to make sure they are healthy before they are introduced to any other cats in the home.

Most feral cats are euthanized when taken in by shelters and animal control agencies. All of the feral cats that enter HSCA via animal control are re-homed to local barns after being spayed or neutered. However, there are simply not enough barns to accommodate the growing number of cats in the community.

So what is the solution?
Trap-Neuter-Return is the ideal solution for unowned, free-roaming cats in Northwest Indiana. All feral cats should be sterilized, microchipped, ear tipped and returned to the community.

Petsmart Charities' TNR infographic is a great overview of what TNR means and how to tell a stray cat from a feral cat

Why return them to their habitat?
Relocating spayed and neutered feral cats to new located creates a "vacuum effect," where new cats from neighboring territories will move in. Feral cats will move in as long as there are food and shelter sources available. Feral cats tend to live in colonies that are protective of their home turf. They will prevent other cats from moving in, and because they are spayed or neutered, they will not have kittens.

stray cat

How to tell a stray cat from a feral cat

Stray Cats

  • May approach people, houses, porches or cars
  • Will most likely live alone, not with a group of other cats
  • Might walk or move like a house cat, for example, with their tail up - a sign of friendliness
  • Will probably look at you, blink, or make eye contact
  • May be vocal and meow, or respond to your voice
  • Will be visible mostly during the daytime
  • Will probably be dirty or disheveled, and will likely not have an ear tip

Feral Cats

feral cat

  • Will not approach and will hide to avoid people
  • Might live with a colony of other cats
  • May crawl, stay low to the ground, and protect body with tail
  • Not likely to make eye contact
  • More commonly nocturnal; occasionally seen during the day
  • Will probably have a clean, well kept coat
    Males with a big head, thick neck, muscular body, and/or scars from fighting is likely to be feral
  • Will have eartip if neutered through TNR program

Info taken from Alley Cat Allies