Feral Cats and Stray Cats

ChouChou, Dale and ChipWhat is a feral cat?

A feral cat is a cat  who was born in the wild (either in the city or in the country), and who may never have a permanent home with humans. The difference between a feral cat and a wild cat is that feral cats are descended from domestic cats. When people think “feral,” they often think an animal is savage or cannot be tamed. However, this is not the case! While many feral cats have been severely abused and can never fully trust humans, some of them can be rehabilitated and maybe even find a forever home. Young kittens are especially good candidates for adoption, but even older cats can be won over with hard work and dedication. Every cat deserves care and compassion, whether it is a pet cat or a feral cat.

What is a stray cat?

A stray cat is a cat who once had a home with humans, but who has been either lost or abandoned. Whereas feral cats are often totally unaccustomed to contact with humans, stray cats are usually much more easily rehabilitated into making suitable companions unless they have also been abused by previous owners. A stray cat may be considered feral if it appears overly fearful or wild, since it has become unaccustomed to humans. A stray cat’s kittens would be considered feral unless they are quickly introduced to humans and brought off the street.

What is a special needs cat?

Dweem and JeromeSpecial needs cat means any cat with unique and ongoing concerns that need extra attention – either physical, emotional or social. All feral and stray cats, due to their unfortunate beginnings, have been traumatized by living on the streets. They have had to struggle just to survive, often without any proper healthy food or water, resulting in a lack of nutrition. Kittens born on the street have a mother who is already nutritionally deprived and often ill, creating a cycle of poor health. These street kittens might receive no milk, poor quality milk or have illnesses passed on to them through their mother’s milk. The mortality rate of street kittens is very high.

Additionally, street cats suffer from inadequate shelter, an unsafe environment and hostile weather. They are often abused by dogs, other cats, wild animals and even humans. They face a wide variety of hazards, from drinking antifreeze or other poisons, to being trapped in outbuildings that get locked up by owners unaware that a cat is hiding inside. These circumstances result in illness, injury and mental anguish that can last a lifetime.

The goal of Paws On Your Heart is to save these special-needs feral and stray cats from their sad lives on the streets, and give them safe, comfortable, healthy and loving sanctuary for life. We do extensive testing of every animal, and then provide full treatment for any illness or impairment they might have. No matter what the cost, or how severe the illness (e.g. Feline AIDS) we will not put a cat down. We are here for them for life.

Over many decades and by assisting thousands of cats, we have had the opportunity to learn about many different special needs. We have experience with everything from diabetes, to missing limbs, to emotional trauma. Part of our mandate is to reach out into the community and offer our knowledge to help cat owners with cats at home who might face similar challenges. Check out our ever-growing list of free and paid information at the following links:


At Paws On Your Heart, we help both stray and feral cats, with all kinds of special needs, to find a happy home at our sanctuary.

Here’s some additional information on homeless cats:

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