In one study, stray cats were defined as cats that were taken from dumps and residential or industrial areas, while feral cats were defined as cats that were remote from these locations. I would have thought that this was an inaccurate way of going about things.
Other scientists have defined feral cats with reference to their non-reliance on humans for food and shelter. Well, feral cats certainly are often not completely independent of humans and neither are they dependent. If a feral cat is highly dependent upon regular feeding from a certain source and the cat is relatively friendly it could be argued that the cat is no longer feral.
Sometimes feral cats can be defined as domestic cats that have gone wild or a cat that reproduces in the wild. One scientist, M.R.Slater defined “feral cat” in what he calls a pragmatic way “based on the status of an individual cat had a particular point in time”.
“A feral cat is one that cannot be handled and is not suitable for placement in a typical pet home, that is, the cat that is un-socialised.”
“Socialisation” has been defined as the process by which an animal develops social behaviour that is appropriate towards other cats and animals in the human household together with people. This is because the word “socialise” refers not only to whether a cat develops appropriate social behaviour towards animals of the same species but animals that he or she lives with of different species.
What is the difference between being domesticated, being tame for being socialised? “Tame” in the context of a cat means that the cat is not frightened of people nor dangerous to people. Such a cat is also domesticated. A domesticated cat feels comfortable at home. I have already defined the word socialisation. There is clearly a very large overlap between these three terms.
In the context of discussing cats, people often use the word “tame” to refer to a wild cat that has been tamed but is not domesticated. In other words the wild cat is safe and relaxed around people but not suited to living in the home.
Source: Myself and The Welfare of Cats ISBN 978-1-4020-6143-1