Feral cats are the same species as pet cats. The only difference is that feral cats have not come into direct contact with people during their socialization period (between 2-7 weeks of age). This causes them to avoid humans, much like a wild animal would. It’s for this reason that it is not recommended to take in a feral cat to live in a home, as it would be comparable to taking in and attempting to tame any other wild animal.
Feral colonies are usually found where there is a steady supply of food, such as near restaurants or shopping centres. There is much debate about how to manage feral colonies—if they are removed, new (breeding) cats will replace them—but the one thing everyone can agree on is that the growth in the population of cats needs to be controlled.
This is done by TNR: humanely trapping the cats, spaying, and releasing back into the area so she can continue to live without breeding. A small tip of the cat's ear is removed so that people monitoring the colony know which cats have already been sterilized.
TOP TIP: Unlike ferals, “stray” cats are those who once lived in a home. Strays can, therefore, be rehomed. A stray cat is more likely to approach you when found. A stray should be checked for a collar and/or microchip and taken to your local SPCA to be reunited with the owner or put up for adoption.