Feral Cat Information

What is a Feral Cat?

Feral cats have multiple definitions. There is the definition used in a 2003 article published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, that says a feral cat is “untamed and evasive; they either were born in the wild and lack socialization or were returned to the wild and became untrusting of humans.”

Wolf, Peter J. "What Is a Feral Cat?" Petfinder. Petfinder, n.d. Web. 22 June 2017.

What is the difference between a stray cat and a feral cat?

It is not always easy to tell the difference between a stray cat and a feral cat.  Both are pet cats. Stray cats are cats that were once owned and have strayed from home.  Stray cats are homeless tame cats.  Over time, without humane socialization, stray cats can become feral cats.  Feral cats are pet cats that have never had human contact, and will not willingly interact with humans.

Check out this PDF from Alley Cat Allies to learn more.

What are feral cats classified as in the State of Idaho?

Feral cats are not classified by Idaho Fish and Game as wildlife, they are feral pet animals.

Is it legal to kill feral cats in the state of Idaho?

According to Idaho Fish and Game:

“The killing of feral cats is so much more than a simple legal question and answer. It may be legal when protecting your property, such as feral cats engaged in the taking of your livestock or even pets. Taking a feral cat in the wilds of Idaho would require a valid hunting license.
However, there are other considerations to keep in mind:
Are you in a city limit that prohibits the discharge of a firearm? Does the county have a no shooting safety ordinance for your neighborhood?
Is the cat actually Feral, or has Muffy escaped their yard and the 8 year old owner out looking for their pet kitty?”

Click here to learn more about Idaho Animal Laws; Title 25 Animals, Chapter 35 Animal Care.  

Who is responsible for the care of feral cats in the state of Idaho?

In the eyes of the State of Idaho, the responsibility falls on the property owner unless the county or city they reside in has their own specific ordinances for feral cat care.  Latah County does not have any animal control or regulations for cats.  The city of Moscow does not have any specific animal code for cats or feral cats.  The responsibility than falls on the property owner.

According to Idaho Animal Code, control and responsibility of feral cats fall on the property owner. 



Does the Humane Society of the Palouse take in feral cats?

The HSoP is unable to take in wild, free-roaming cats because the shelter does not contain facilities conducive to the care of untamed animals. 

Though HSoP wants to have the ability to take in feral cats, we have limitations.  Feral cats require safety equipment that HSoP does not have, nor can HSoP afford at this point in time.  In order to take in ferals, HSoP would also need to expand enough to take in additional animals that are not companion animals, which at this time is not financially possible.  For 40 years HSoP has served Latah County and the City of Moscow’s needs for companion, tame animals.  We do not have the labor, training, equipment or expertise to take care of wild animals. 

How can you help feral cats?

Visit: http://animalhouseferals.com/  to learn more about how you can help local feral cats!

HSoP Position on Feral Cats


For 40 years, we have served local animals under our mission statement: “The Humane Society of the Palouse is a no-kill animal shelter located in Moscow ID, founded in 1978.  Our mission is to ensure the humane treatment, welfare and safety of companion animals in Moscow and Latah County.  We strive to prevent cruelty to animals, to ensure companion animals are adopted by responsible and caring owners, to promote spaying/neutering, to educate the public regarding responsible pet ownership, and to minimize euthanasia.”


We are acutely aware of the feral population in Latah County, the city of Moscow and the UI Campus and are doing everything within our means and ability to help.  We are locally operated with a small staff and dedicated volunteers. 


There are currently no regulations or ordinance for felines in Latah County.  We recommend that this be the starting point for containing this issue. Without regulation, feral cats continuously have unwanted and uncared for litters.  If there were enforceable animal code regarding responsible ownership of cats in Latah County, we would see a decrease in unwanted animals.


We are actively taking measures to find a solution for ferals. We are looking into grants for funding a feral solution program, and re-organizing our own operation in order to help alleviate the feral burden without jeopardizing the animals in our shelter.


In our mission statement, we state that we will find homes for companion animals. There are many reasons for this. To provide services for feral animals, we would need a new facility with up to date kennels for the safety of the staff and animals, we would need more funding for specialized training and gear. At this time, those needs cannot be met with current funding or facility.


In the past, HSoP partnered with the FCS program.  Where we engaged in doing a TNR providing preventative care as well as euthanization for those with HIV, or those with extremely poor health.  Our FCS program was able to make ends meet by charging $50 per cat.  The FCS clinics were a “win win” for cat owners, WSU vet med students, and HSoP.  FCS has since dissolved.


2019 E White Ave

PO Box 8847

Moscow, Idaho 83843

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