The Elvis Feral Fund
Elvis was a feral cat who lived in the yard of one Standish's volunteers. Her experience caring for this handsome gentleman inspired her passion for feral cats in the community and the development of the Elvis Feral Fund.
What is the difference between a stray catand a feral cat?
Pet and stray cats are socialized to people.
Feral cats are not socialized to people. While they are socialized to their colony members and bonded to each other, they do not have that same relationship with people.
A stray cat is a cat who has been socialized to people at some point in her life, but has left or lost her domestic home, as well as most human contact and dependence. Over time, a stray cat can become feral as her contact with humans dwindles. Under the right circumstances, however, a stray cat can also become a pet cat once again. Stray cats that are re-introduced to a home after living outdoors may require a period of time to acclimate; they may be frightened and wary after spending time outside away from people.
Another definition that may help:
“A stray cat is a domestic cat that has been abandoned or has ‘strayed’ from home and become lost. Stray [cats] were once pets and they can usually be successfully rescued and placed in homes.” –Stray Cat Handbook
A feral cat is a cat who has either never had any contact with humans or her contact with humans has diminished over time. She is fearful of people and survives on her own outdoors. A feral cat is not likely to ever become a lap cat or enjoy living indoors.
Kittens born to feral cats can be socialized at an early age and adopted into homes.
Why does it matter?
Stray cats can readjust to living with people and can be adopted as companions.
Adult feral cats are not socialized to people, which means they cannot be adopted. As a result, they are likely to be killed if picked up by animal control or brought to shelters, so it is in their best interest to continue living outdoors.
Stray and and feral cats can be difficult to tell apart, especially when they are trapped or frightened. Scared stray cats often need time to relax and show their level of socialization. Learn more at
Trap-Neuter-Return takes into account each cat’s level (or degree) of socialization to determine the best environment for them. Feral cats are returned to their outdoor home after being trapped and neutered. Socialized cats and kittens can be adopted into homes.
**Content from Alley Cat Allies FERAL AND STRAY CATS—AN IMPORTANT DIFFERENCE. You can download the fact sheet by clicking on the photo above.
Standish has several volunteers in many neighboring towns who work with the stray and feral cats in their area. Cats are trapped, neutered and returned back to their outdoor home, where volunteers continue to provide food and shelter or if the cat is a friendly stray, we work to find a home for adoption. Alley Cat Allies offers may resources on the feral cats in our neighborhoods. Click on the photo to learn more about TNR (trap-neuter-return).
Standish also has a feral kitten socialization program where kittens who have been weaned from their feral mother are trapped and brought into our shelter. The kittens learn to trust humans through a process of holding, petting and talking to the kittens while they are being hand fed. A group of specially trained volunteers give the kittens extra handling and socialization throughout the day while they are learning to trust.
Below is a video training explaining the socialization program and the rationale for the steps we take.