What makes an animal 'feral’?
When you see a cat on the street, is it wild or feral? Here’s a look at the debate over the terminology.
“Feral” is a cloudy term, one most of us have heard in connection with animals that aren’t domestic but aren’t wild either. So what exactly is a feral animal?
It's one that lives in the wild “but was descended from domesticated stock,” says Kayce Bell, assistant curator of mammalogy at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles. Their time being domesticated, which can entail generations of being selectively bred and cared for by humans, usually as pets or livestock, is “the only thing that distinguishes them from wild creatures, she says.
The expression “feral” is sometimes seen as pejorative, as if an animal has failed at or rejected domesticity. Feral animals are also sometimes called wild,