What is a feral vs. stray cat?
A feral cat is a cat that has never had human contact or past contact with humans have diminished over time. A feral cat is not adoptable as it will almost always be wary of humans and will not make a good pet. He/she is happier outside. Feral cats can live in any type of environment (urban, suburban and rural) and are either kittens of house cats or kittens from a feral mother. There is a misconception that a feral cat is homeless, but a feral cat calls the outdoors his/her home.
A Stray cat at some point has been socialized to humans before but lost his/her home. A stray cat can become feral as human contact diminishes, however, a stray cat may be able to become a pet again.
What is TNR?
TNR stands for Trap-Neuter-Return which is a humane and effective way to control the population of feral cats. Feral cats are trapped using humane traps such as Havahart® or Tomahawk Live Traps llc. and brought to licensed veterinarians to be neutered or spayed. The cats are vaccinated against rabies and eartipped (to identify a neutered and vaccinated feral cat from a distance). The feral cat is then returned or released back to their outdoor home. Stray cats that are socialized are usually adopted into homes. The population stabilizes because no more kittens are born.
What is the “Vacuum Effect?”
The Vacuum Effect is when a portion or the entire population of an animal population is permanently removed from the territory. The empty habitat will create a “vacuum” where other species or members of the same species move in to take advantage of the resources available. This effect is seen not only with feral cats but across many species (herbivores, carnivores, omnivores) and is well-documented among biologists worldwide.
Read more about the “vacuum effect” and scientific studies. *Information from www.alleycat.org