Cat wrongfully labeled feral: ‘I kept looking for this vicious wild cat that had terrorized a family’

Posted March 15, 2019 – A Reader’s Forum article by Laura Morrison

This is what gets animals killed. Labeling them feral without any idea of what that really means. This beautiful boy was called in as a feral public nuisance, terrorizing a neighborhood.

cat rescue
Sebastian was labeled as ‘feral’ (Facebook)
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

As if we weren’t already busy enough, a call came in yesterday from someone who said they had trapped a nuisance, a feral, who had impregnated their female cats.

They claimed he hung around for food but was a wild cat with a penchant for spraying their barn and upsetting their life. We offered to have him neutered /relocated to a farm. We got another call later that the husband had trumped all plans and told me this wild cat was going to animal control in the trap he’d been in since the day before. Said the cat had been a nuisance and wasn’t welcome.

The man could’ve cared less about the cats fate. I tried hard to change his mind and gave him the euthanasia rates in North Carolina and what could happen. He was unimpressed. I hung up on him.

I called the shelter /told them to please not use county resources to euthanize, I’d come to get this feral and figure it out. They told me they had rules and had to follow them. I understood my hands were tied. I left my phone number with AC /told them I’d be completely accountable to them and They could verify any vetting or place I would take him just to spare his life.

I was feeling so helpless/emotional. I’m tired of all this killing. To my surprise, two hours later, Animal Control called me to tell me this “ feral” had made it in to intake. Was no feral at all. He was quite friendly and sweet. They said “come now if you want him. He’s no feral. He’s letting us pet him.”

I took him today to the vet. He’s got a massive ear infection and cuts under the skin from life’s journeys. Nothing feral about him. The vet said he was a young youthful boy of two. Maybe younger. He purred the whole time and rolled over for belly rubs.

I kept looking for this vicious wild cat that had terrorized a family. This vicious animal that had been a plague of some sort. He turned out to be a loving sweet lap cat who seemed scared of his own shadow. People should be educated on what feral really means.

This one is no wild animal and he’s actually one of the most well behaved. I don’t get it. I guess people just don’t care sometimes and use the word ‘Feral’ to trigger a reaction. A possible lethal one.

cat rescue
Sebastian at the vet (Facebook)

Wouldn’t it have been a tragedy if the folks at AC had taken this mans word for truth? Thank God they saw what we saw. I don’t know how we keep failing these cats.

Someone’s going to love this fella!!!!!! He’s huge!!! And super sweet!! Getting neutered in the a.m. His name is Sebastian. Not feral. Not wild. Just a sweet fella who got mixed up with the wrong people. Thank goodness he’s here and alive.


Note from Elisa

Laura Morrison is a North Carolina champion for the unwanted cats. She’s the founder of Zach’s Rescue and works around the clock to save as many lives as possible.

I wanted to post her story because many, many cats are labeled as feral at intake when in reality they’re scared. This is why it’s important to microchip your cat and should it become lost to request a walk-through at your local shelter. Ferals are most often kept separate from the tame cats.

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10 thoughts on “Cat wrongfully labeled feral: ‘I kept looking for this vicious wild cat that had terrorized a family’”

  1. I rescued a cat who was labeled “feral” by the shelter. She was not adoptable, but a rescue group was able to get her out. The shelter manager said that if I got bitten, I better not bring her back. Outside of the shelter, she is the sweetest, most docile cat you could ever meet. She was simply terrified in the shelter environment. I wonder how many terrified cats are wrongfully labeled: “feral”?

    • Great comment Grace. I’d love you write some more on that story. I could then make it an article. It is an important subject.

      • sure- would be glad to have you write an article-

        Although I am not set up as a non-profit rescue, I have often worked with legitimate rescue organizations to pull cats from shelters. I foster them, get them vetted and try to locate permanent homes for them. When I saw the picture of a Hope (as we aptly called her) on the shelter page, I knew I needed to act quickly. Hope was a beautiful long haired gray/blue cat. In the shelter photo, Hope looked frightened. Her eyes revealed that she was terrified and I felt given the chance, she would become a wonderful pet. I had often worked with the Humane Society to rescue cats from this NC shelter, but they were now under new administration and changes were being implemented. I did not go to the shelter myself. Instead, a volunteer from the Humane Society went to retrieve her for me. I was to meet the woman later to pick up this cat. I found out later from the rescue volunteer that the shelter manager was reluctant to let her take this cat. This particular cat was deemed feral and was not adoptable. The shelter manager eventually relented with the warning that if anyone should be bitten, the cat was not welcome back. When I got Hope home, she was fearful, but not aggressive. She hid for a few weeks, This is not uncommon when cats are put in an unfamiliar situation. But I allowed her to come out in her own time and she soon came to love affection. She would often sit at my feet just staring up at me waiting for a gentle touch or little attention. In a short time, Hope had gone from non-adoptable to a completely trusting and loving companion. Cats are not so different than people. They all have their own unique personalities and respond to stress differently. People who don’t understand that are likely to think that a stressed or terrorized cat is not adoptable when they simply are not adjusting to a stressful environment. The shelter is an extremely stressful setting for many animals and I am sure that many are not given a fair chance because they cannot tolerate the stress and may react in a way that is deemed “feral.” I am so glad that Hope was given a second chance. She has turned into a delightful companion despite her troublesome experiences.

  2. I really like this story. It’s disturbing but thankfully a happy ending. It does tell a tale. The man who described Sebastian as feral wanted him dead. I suspect he dislikes cats. He sounds like a a grumpy old sod who hates cats and is fed up with them in the neighborhood. He just wants them trapped and killed. If it was legal he’d probably shoot them or poison them. There are quite a lot of people like that.

    I am really impressed with Laura. What a wonderful woman she is. I admire her tremendously. She deserves recognition and a medal. Thanks Laura for taking the time to tell the story. It is much appreciated by me and it may well save the lives of some mislabelled cats.

    • Sometimes and sometimes the caregiver will be able to tell a tame cat is simply lost. I had a shy one named Surprise kitty who had to be fed away from the others. I don’t know how colony cats communicate other than a slap but there seems to be levels of who’s in charge.

  3. This is a perfect example of why I support TNR. Cat’s are judged for temperament when they go in for vetting. Tame cats can find a family and are more likely than not with a feral colony simply to survive after being abandoned by their family.


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