Surprise Visitors: What to Do With a Stray Cat
Have you ever wondered what to do with a stray cat? You’ve probably wondered if these cats have a home. You may also wonder whether or not you should feed these stray cats. These cats could have an owner who lets them outside, or they could be stray or feral cats that live in the community. Depending on their situation, you can help these cats in many different ways.
First of all, how do you know that the cat is a stray? If the cat is wearing a collar, it definitely has an owner. The cat may just have wondered too far from home. Also, the cat could have a microchip that would identify its owner. Stray cats are usually very lean and they may have rough fur coats or an appearance that is generally unhealthy. Quite often, a stray cat will be afraid of strangers, so helping them might prove to be a challenge.
If you’re wondering what to do with a stray cat, here are the guidelines set forth by the Humane Society of the United States.
- If the cat has identification, try to contact the owner.
- If you can get the cat into a carrier, take them to a veterinarian or animal shelter to be scanned for a microchip.
- Contact animal shelters, veterinary offices, and rescue groups to let them know about the cat you’ve found. Someone may have filed a lost-cat report that is a match.
- Ask neighbors and mail carriers if they’re familiar with the cat.
- Post signs and place free ads in local newspapers.
- Create a “found pet” profile at The Center for Lost Pets.
It’s helpful if you can provide shelter for the cat while you search for its owner. If you can’t find the owner, you can try to find a good home for the cat, or you may want to adopt it yourself. But if you take the cat home with you, make sure that you have them checked by a veterinarian before you introduce them into your home with other cats.
Feral cats, on the other hand, should not be handled. Most feral cats can’t be adopted because they are simply too frightened of people.
If you happen to find a litter of unattended kittens in your neighborhood and the kittens are not old enough to be weaned, do not touch them or remove them from the nest. Their mother could be hiding from you – and if you handle her babies, she may be less likely to return to them. Wait a while and see if the mother cat returns. If she does not return, the kittens have probably been abandoned. In that case, you will want to begin bottle feeding the kittens and seek veterinary attention.
When you’re wondering what to do with a stray cat, it’s only natural that you would wonder whether or not you should feed the cat. We’ll tell you more about that next.
Should You Feed Stray or Feral Cats?
Should you feed stray or feral cats? That’s a good question, but the answer is not always black and white. In some areas, there are laws and ordinances about feeding stray or feral cats – if you feed the cat, you own it. Some areas even impose fines or other punishments for feeding stray or feral cats.
Before deciding whether or not to feed the cat, it is important to note that there are differences between stray cats and feral cats. A stray cat is a cat that previously had a home. The cat has either moved out, gotten lost, or has been given up. Stray cats are familiar with humans and can be friendly. A feral cat, however, is one that has never had a home. A feral cat is more likely born and bred from a feral line or colony. Feral cats will not be familiar with people other than something to be wary of and as a potential source of food.
Stray cats may be friendly and approach you for food or attention, or they may be too scared to let you get close. However, if you put the food down for them they will usually eat immediately. You should always use caution since you don’t know how the cat is going to react.
Feral cats may approach you when they are extremely hungry, but they will only eat the food you’ve given them once you’ve walked away. If you’ve been feeding a cat for several days and can still not approach or touch the cat, it is probably feral. Don’t try to handle a feral cat. Most feral cats cannot be adopted because they are simply too frightened of people.
Feeding a stray cat has its pros and cons. If you decide to feed a stray cat, you have plenty of options. They would probably enjoy dry or canned cat food or some tasty tuna fish. Also, give the cat plenty of fresh water.
To learn more, read the article Should You Feed Stray or Feral Cats?
What Is a Feral Cat?
What is a feral cat? A feral cat is a cat that has had little to no contact with humans. They are usually unapproachable by people. These cats have been born into or adapted to outdoor life without human contact, living together in loose families organized as colonies. They hunt wildlife as food, including mice, birds and lizards. These cats are not socialized enough to be handled by humans, and for that reason they cannot easily be placed into a traditional pet home – if at all.
If you are wondering what is a feral cat, you should know that these cats cannot become loving companions – and most will never relish human companionship. They tend to stay away from humans. They hide during the day. Feral cats will find it difficult or impossible to adapt to living as pets in close contact with people. If you adopt a feral cat, you will find that it is very difficult or impossible to socialize.
Community cats typically live in a colony that occupies and defends a specific territory where food and shelter are available. They may live near a restaurant dumpster, under a porch or in an abandoned building. But if these cats are feral, you will rarely see them because they hide from humans.
Many people including the ASPCA and the Humane Society believe that the best way to help feral cat colonies is through Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) efforts. TNR is a nonlethal strategy for reducing the number of community cats and improving the quality of life for cats, wildlife and people. By catching these feral cats and neutering or spaying them, we can help to reduce the number of unwanted cats. Through TNR efforts, these feral cats will be humanely trapped, examined, vaccinated and surgically sterilized by veterinarians. The tip of one ear is surgically removed as a universally recognized sign that the feral cat has been spayed or neutered. Then the cat is returned to its home environment. These cats will no longer reproduce or fight over mates, and their nuisance behaviors are greatly reduced or eliminiated.
Afterwards, volunteers may provide food and shelter and monitor the health of these cats. Once neutered, these cats tend to gain weight and have fewer health issues. And with fewer females in heat, less tom cats are attracted to the area, meaning fewer risky cat fights.
To learn more about feral cats, go to What Is a Feral Cat?
Should You Try Taking in a Stray Cat?
If you are thinking about taking in a stray cat, there are several things you should keep in mind. First of all, you must determine if the cat is stray or feral. If the cat is feral, it will not adapt to living a domesticated life.
Taking in a stray cat is a big decision. It’s not as easy as simply opening your door and your heart to the new cat. Here are a few things to consider.
- Since the cat has been living outdoors, it most likely has fleas, ticks and other pests that they’ve picked up while roaming in the wild.
- The cat may be overdue for worming medication and vaccinations.
- If the stray is a tom cat, you will want to have him neutered before bringing him into your home or allowing him to continue roaming your property.
- If the cat has been living outdoors for some time, it may be necessary to re-introduce him to life as a pet. You will need to teach him to use the litter box, and not to scratch with his claws.
- If you are taking in a stray cat, start with a trip to the vet.
- You will also have to socialize the cat with any other cats, pets or people in the home.
For more information, go to our article, Should You Try Taking in a Stray Cat?
How to Acclimate a Cat to a New Home
Do you know how to acclimate a cat to a new home? Adjusting to a new home can be very difficult for a cat, especially when it is a stray who has gotten used to living outdoors. During the initial adjustment period you will need patience and understanding to help your new cat feel more at home.
How do you acclimate a cat to a new home? It may take several weeks for your cat to adjust to his new living situation. Here’s what you should do during the adjustment period. Keep the cat indoors. The cat needs to get used to you as his new provider of love, food and shelter. It is not uncommon for cats to display behavior problems during this adjustment period, but these problems should disappear in time. Your cat may hide under the furniture. If he does, just sit and talk quietly to the cat. Make sure that there is food, water and a litter box nearby.
When you take your cat out of the carrier, immediately show him the location of the litter box. Provide a bowl of water but don’t feed him immediately. Don’t overwhelm the cat with attention. Allow him to acclimate to his new surroundings on his own terms.
It is best to introduce your cat to his new home gradually. Begin by restricting him to one room. During this time, isolate other animals from your new cat and supervise your children when they interact with the cat. Try to spend a few hours with your cat as he settles into his new home. You may want to place a cozy cat bed in a quiet corner of the room.
If you have other animals in the home you will need to introduce them gradually. Remember, the cat is being introduced to a territory already claimed by your resident pet, so you need to take both of their feelings into account. The ability of animals to get along together in the same household depends on their individual personalities. There will be one animal who dominates. It will take a week or two for a successful transition. It may be a little hectic but be patient. Things will most likely work out in time.
To learn more about bringing a new cat into your home, go to How to Acclimate a Cat to a New Home.