What is the major difference between stray and feral cats?

In the U.S., stray and feral cats are a massive problem. One of the best ways to help them is to know that there is, in fact, a difference between stray and feral cats. Make no mistake, both need our help. But to help them, we need to recognize that there is a difference there, and properly identify each type of cat so we can give them they help they need most.

Alley Cat Allies says that stray cats are cats that once had a home, and then either ran away, got lost or abandoned. They can become more feral over time, but, under the right circumstances, they can re-learn how to trust people and become a pet cat again.

Feral cats, on the other hand, aren’t socialized, and except in rare circumstances, cannot be socialized. They avoid humans, and don’t like to be touched, let alone held. They’ll probably never be happy indoors. Feral kittens, however, can be socialized and adopted out.

What are some other things that show the difference between stray and feral cats?

It’s not just interaction with humans that illustrates this difference. Feral cats form colonies, and associate with other cats, but not other animals, really. Stray cats tend to be solitary – they don’t form colonies the way that feral cats do.

Stray cats also act far more like a typical pet cat. They walk with their heads and tails held higher, like they’re strutting their stuff. Feral cats, on the other hand, are far more reclusive. They keep low to the ground, and use their tails to protect their bodies. They skulk, almost; they don’t walk.

One unexpected difference between stray and feral cats is that feral cats have adapted to the outdoors far better than stray cats are, so they’re actually more likely to have a clean, well-kept coat. They’ve learned how to keep themselves clean despite the harsh conditions outdoors. Strays, though, are more likely have dirty and unkempt coats.

Knowing whether a cat is stray or feral helps you determine what kind of care it needs, especially if you’re looking to trap it. If it’s stray, you can get it vetted and then either bring it into your own home, or find a good home for it. A feral cat, on the other hand, is best treated in a trap-neuter-release program. Having an idea of the difference between stray and feral cats will help you better care for them.

Bringing back critically endangered Iberian lynxes

The Iberian lynx nearly went extinct 15 years ago. There were only about 100 adults left in the wild, and only 25 breeding females. That’s a small enough population to ensure extinction, and European conservationists knew that. Some of us (myself included) rail against captive breeding programs for conservation, because oftentimes, they simply result in breeding these poor animals for life in a cage. In the case of Iberian lynxes, that may not be so.

Conservationists began capturing young lynxes to ensure their health and breeding capabilities, and breeding them. In 2010, he first Iberian lynxes that are part of this program were born in captivity. In 2014 and 2015, they’d been able to release more than 120 lynxes, and there were 400 lynxes in Southern Spain by the end of 2015.

This program could help bring lynxes back to the U.K., too

This program is so successful that they’re now considering a very similar program to re-introduce Eurasian lynxes to the U.K. U.K. Lynx Trust believes that the U.K. could support hundreds of lynxes, but they would start very slowly, with three males and three females, most likely from Romania.

The first birth would be the first lynx born in the U.K. in 1,300 years.

Eurasian lynxes and Iberian lynxes are different in that Iberian lynxes are smaller, and their coloring is different. There are other differences, too. Iberian lynxes also seem to be localized to Spain. They aren’t even found in Portugal.

Eurasian lynxes, on the other hand, are far more widespread, but, as stated earlier, haven’t been seen in the U.K. in a very long time. The Eurasian lynx was native to the U.K., as well as much of the rest of Europe. Like the Iberian lynx, the Eurasian lynx became endangered in part by habitat destruction, which would be par for the course since an awful lot of endangerment and extinction has occurred because of habitat destructions.

Bringing back Iberian lynxes, and Eurasian lynxes, is quite a popular idea

There is very strong public support for both programs. Of course, many in the farming industry are worried about it, because they fear the lynxes will prey on their livestock. Lynxes have been known to prey on sheep, but they are completely harmless to deer. However, the benefits and support of reintroducing these cats to their native areas through breeding programs is popular.

Basically, the idea of captive breeding might be repulsive to many of us, but these programs are being used not just to bring back lynxes, but also such endangered species as the South China Tiger. Successful breeding and introduction into the wild may be just the recipe we need to save some of these beautiful cats.

Cats feel pain, but they hide it. What should you look for?

Cats are mysterious creatures, but perhaps not so mysterious as with their health. Many times, we have no idea our furry feline friends are sick or injured right away, and with illness, we might not even know until it’s too late, either financially or, well, a much worse way. Cats hide the fact that they’re not feeling 100 percent instinctively, so it’s up to us to know when our cats feel pain.

10 ways you can tell your cat is in pain

How do you do that if they hide it, though? Cat Behavior Associates has put together a list of ways that indicates cats feel pain:

  1. Increased vocalization
  2. Licking a particular area of the body more than usual
  3. Appearance of the nictitating membrane (the third eyelid)
  4. Hiding
  5. Panting or open mouth breathing
  6. Irritability or grumpiness (from a cat who normally isn’t that way)
  7. Lack of appetite
  8. Change in mobility (signs of limping or reluctance to move)
  9. Change in litter box habits
  10. Increased clingy/needy-type behavior

There are things on this list that have shown when our cats feel pain

Number two on that list, “licking a particular area of the body more than usual,” is how we discovered that Gizmo had an abscess. At the time, we thought it was an infected anal sac, but it wasn’t. She’d been bickering with one of our other cats who got a little too rough with her, and bit her hard enough to wound her. We didn’t see it until we noticed that she was stopping whatever she was doing to lick a particular spot. By that point, the bite had abscessed, and she needed veterinary care.

Number eight, “change in mobility,” was another way we noticed that Gizmo was in pain. We aren’t sure what had happened, but it was like she had an injured paw. Fortunately, whatever it was was minor, and she recovered fully within a couple of days.

Other signs might not seem serious, but require attention as soon as possible

A lack of appetite isn’t just a sign that cats feel pain, it can also be a sign that they’re sick. This is probably the best way there is to tell whether something is wrong with your cat. It’s also one of the reasons I advocate feeding on a schedule, in separate bowls if you have multiple cats, instead of free feeding. When you feed your cats on a schedule, you not only help control their weight, but you will notice whether someone isn’t eating normally much sooner than you otherwise would. That, in turn, means your cat will get veterinary care much sooner and prevent a problem from becoming very serious.

Changes in litter box habits are an especially strong telltale sign when cats feel pain, because crystals, urinary tract infections, and digestive problems can all make cats avoid the litter box, or be unable to use the litter box altogether. This is another sign for which you should call your vet if you see it, as it can indicate serious and possibly life-threatening conditions.

To see when cats feel pain, pay very, very close attention

The bottom line is that paying very close attention to your cats, so you can see whether they’ve stopped eating, whether their behavior has changed in some way, and more, is necessary to catching health problems early, while they’re at their most treatable. Cats feel pain, most definitely, but they’re so good at hiding it that it’s up us to pay attention.

Devo’s ‘Whip It’ To help with Big Cats in Circuses

Remember Devo? The band from the early ’80s whose iconic song, “Whip It,” is still played today? They’re taking that song and rebranding it for an amazing cause – big cats in circuses. The song, which the group says was about overcoming adversity, can apply to this problem, too. Now, Devo’s “Whip It” will help PETA in the fight to release big cats from circuses.

Problems with big cats in circuses have been present for forever

Ringling Bros. has come under heavy fire for their use of animals, like big cats, in circuses. It’s so bad that, as recently as 2013, PETA was repeatedly asking the city of Chicago to investigate the circus for the way it treats its animals. The USDA has also repeatedly cited Ringling Bros. for their terrible treatment of animals in general, and tigers in specific.

They’ve kept tigers in very small cages, and in boxcars without good climate control. Their tigers have almost died from the heat inside the cars.

Where does “Whip It” come in?

“Whip It” has a long history of use in commercials and videos, but the whole point here is to bring attention to the abuse—including whipping—that goes on in circus training. PETA’s senior vice president, Dan Mathews, was able to ask for Devo’s help in fighting big cats in circuses in part because he’s known the singer/bassist, Gerald Casale, for a long time.

They’re focused on the use of cattle prods to train elephants, which is a major focus of many animal rights groups fighting animals in circuses. Mathews asked Casale to direct a video aimed at raising awareness of the problem, which then moved Casale to do something about it.

Devo will donate a portion of the proceeds to PETA to help fight for this cause.

Using “Whip It” to do this only makes sense:

“Obviously, ‘Whip It’ being the song that has perennially produced the most royalty income and been the most used in TV and movies and video games, it was the obvious choice. Not to mention the irony of the title and the gallows humor there.”

Ringling Bros. has announced that they will start retiring elephants from their circus, but this effort won’t solve the problem of big cats in circuses. Still, some progress is better than no progress at all. We can only hope that this is merely a first step, and that Devo’s and PETA’s work will help.

Why do Cats Raise Their Butts in the Air?

You may have noticed that, when you pet or scratch your cat’s back, her butt goes up in the air. She might even lean way down on her front paws to get her butt higher in the air while you scratch. This usually happens when you scratch her lower back and down to the base of her tail. Why do cats raise their butts like that?

Cats raise their butts because they’re communicating something to you

All of our cats do this to some degree, but Aria and Kali do it the most. It turns out that cats raise their butts in the air because they’re inviting more scratching and petting. They’re telling you that they’re happy with what you’re doing, and they want more of it.

Cats don’t communicate the way we do. A butt in the face, or a raised butt, is a sign of friendliness, and even affection. Their body language says more than their meows ever can. When cats raise their butts, they’re signaling friendship, comfort and affection. A cat that isn’t doing this may still enjoy the petting, but perhaps not in that right spot, or maybe they’re just not feeling very affectionate at that time.

Kali will eventually settle all the way down, even though she still wants us to pet and scratch her. When this happens, her ears are forward, the pupils of her eyes are small, she’s still rubbing on our fingers, and she’s still purring. She’s just decided she wants scratches elsewhere at that time.

She also just gets up and leaves when she gets tired of the attention, so her settling down isn’t an indication that she’s getting restless. It’s probably not with your cat, either.

Aria just never stops with the butt-raising. This often makes it hard to brush her, because she’s got her forequarters so low, and her hindquarters so high, that it actually makes brushing her sides much harder.

They will also do it for other reasons

Another reason cats raise their butts is because it’s a holdover from when they were kittens. This is how kittens let their mothers know that their butts are ready for cleaning, and it’s possible that cats see us as surrogate mothers (I know Chase thinks I’m his mama).

Basically, cats raise their butts because they’re trying to tell us they’re happy and like what we’re doing. It’s a compliment, and a request for more.