A feral cat is one that lives outside and has had little or no contact with humans.
Feral cats are usually the offspring of unaltered cats abandoned by their owners or
they are adult cats that were abandoned so long ago that they have reverted to a wild state.
In most cases, feral cats are not completely wild since they still depend on humans for
their food source, whether they are being fed by a caretaker who establishes a regular
feeding schedule, a dumpster outside a restaurant, garbage cans, etc. Very few feral cats
can get by on hunting alone.
There are different degrees of wildness in feral cats. Young kittens are more capable of
being socialized than a feral adult. If a kitten is born outdoors to a mother who was
originally a domestic cat, there is a better chance of that kitten being socialized than
one who was born to a cat who is several generations feral. The extent to which they
experience human contact is also a factor. If cats have regular contacts with humans,
they might be friendlier and more approachable than those who do not. A particular cats
personality makes a difference as well. Some cats are more amenable to socialization than others.
If a cat is truly feral, than the most compassionate choice may be to just let it live
outdoors, providing it with food, water and shelter from inclement weather. What would
be worse for a feral cat...saving him by bringing him indoors, condemning him to a life of
hiding under a bed and living in fear, or letting him live a life in a manner than suits him best?