A cat you find outside may be an indoor/outdoor cat who has gone on a walkabout, they may be a stray, or they may be a feral Community Cat.
A stray cat is a pet who was lost or abandoned.
These cats are used to contact with humans.
They tend to be much more visible, vocalize more, and will approach people.
Stray cats may be reunited with their families or adopted into new homes.
An indoor/outdoor cat may be confused with a stray. Always talk to your neighbors about what pets they have before assuming a friendly cat is a stray.
Community Cats are free-roaming, outdoor cats who live in large groups or colonies.
Community cat colonies generally consist of a mixture of stray cats and feral cats.
Feral cats are wild animals that have difficulty adapting to life as a pet.
Typically, these cats did not receive proper socialization as kittens and are therefore not accustom to human contact.
They often suffer from extreme stress when in close contact with people. This especially applies when they are impounded in an animal shelter.
Community cats tend to live around a food source. This can be food that a neighbor leaves out, garbage cans, or small rodents. If a community cat is impounded, another community cat will find its way to that food source.
Visit Alley Cat Allies to learn more about helping Community Cats in your neighborhood and to find out about the Trap Neuter Release (TNR) programs that are helping homeless cats everywhere.