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Albuquerque VetCo

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Albuquerque feral cat

What is the difference between Stray and Feral?

Albuquerque feral catWe treat a lot of cats at Vetco. We also help many different non-profit organizations to vaccinate and alter animals. Vetco is proud has treated hundreds of thousands of feral cats over the past 30 years. We have dedicated a lot of time to help ensure that the Albuqeurque pet population is healthy, whether they are in loving homes or living wild.

Most people do not know the difference between a stray and a feral cat. But the difference is big and it is important. Knowing the difference can guide you on how you interact with a found cat, which can keep both you and them safe.


This means cats who are friendly towards people. Kittens become socialized by being held, spoken to, and played with. If a kitten grows up not being socialized they will be apprehensive or suspicious of people and may not be suited to living in a home.

What is a feral cat?

A feral cat is a cat that has not been socialized. They have never lived in a human home. They are bonded to other cats and not to people. Feral cats are not likely to ever become indoor cats or pets.

What is a stray?

A stray cat is one that has been socialized at some point in their life.  They have since lost their home. It is possible for a stray to become feral if enough time goes by without human contact. Stray cats can often reacclimate to a human home.




Stranger danger! Keep this in mind for you and for the cat. A feral cat see’s you as a threat. If you try to pet or catch her, she may bite or scratch you. A feral cat will attack as though their life depends on it, and this can cause you some serious harm. It is best to not try to pet or pick up a cat you do not know.

Catch and Release

There are programs that do what is called “catch and release”. If a feral cat is picked up by animal humane, because they cannot be adopted, they are more likely to be euthanised. This is why it is better for them to live in the wild. Catch and release is a program where people catch a feral cat, get them spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and then release the back to the wild. This way they cannot make more feral kittens, but can live a healthy life. If you see a cat with a tipped ear, this means they have been spayed or neutered and released.


It is not a good idea for you to try to do catch and release on your own. Alert your local catch and release program if you have a feral cat problem. Doing it on your own can be dangerous for you and for the cat.