Feral cats are the result of a domestic cat being abandoned or lost and left to fend for itself. Their offspring are never handled by people and are not socialised. When approached by people, they run and hide and when cornered hiss and lash out, much like any other wild animal. This is misunderstood as being vicious, but that is not true. Almost all feral cats that are trapped will cower to the back of the trap, shake and even urinate due to their inability to escape from the perceived threat. Upon release they never attack but make a quick get-away.
Unlike domestic cats, feral cats do not vocalise for food or communicate with humans at all. Vocalising is a learnt behaviour and only picked-up when cats are raised around humans. Fighting intact Toms, like their ‘owned’ counterparts still have much to say to each other and breeding females with kittens will communicate location with each other. Ferals tend to live in groups (colonies), and take refuge wherever there is a food-source, no matter how meagre. They seek shelter in abandoned buildings, under huge generators, under building rubble and so forth.
The SPCA endorses Trap-Neuter-Return, which helps improve the health and quality of life for feral cats and prevents more from being born into this dangerous and difficult existence. Many don’t survive – if they do, their lives aren’t easy without human caretakers.