What to Do with a Stray Cat

Stray cats are common in many places, and coming across one may be a perplexing and emotional experience.

It is critical to understand the difficulties that stray cats confront and what steps you may take to help them.

In this post, we will look at the most frequent worries people have when they encounter a stray cat and give clear and practical advice on how to proceed.

Whether you are a seasoned animal lover or a first-time rescuer, this guide will help you make informed decisions and provide the care and attention that a stray cat needs.

What is a stray cat?

A stray cat is a domestic cat that has been abandoned or has spent its whole life on the streets after becoming separated from its owner.

These cats are known as community cats, and they frequently confront tremendous difficulties in their daily lives.

These felines can face a variety of challenges, including disease, starvation, and danger, and they frequently require human aid to live.

stray cat sitting in the cold on a snowy pavement
A stray cat sitting in the cold on a snowy pavement

Stray cats vs. feral cats

It’s critical to grasp the difference between a stray and a feral cat. While neither is kept as a pet, there are significant distinctions in their behavior, history, and demands.

A stray cat is a domesticated feline who has become separated from its owner or who has wandered away from home. They may have been misplaced or abandoned, and they frequently have a history of human involvement. They are usually sociable and may approach or allow handling.

A feral cat, on the other hand, is a cat that has never been domesticated and has had little to no interaction with people. Because they are often born and nurtured in the wild, their behavior is more instinctive and wild. Feral cats are often afraid of humans and will not approach or be handled.

feral cats
Feral cats

The distinction between stray and feral cats is critical since it defines the appropriate course of action for each cat’s welfare. A stray cat may benefit from a new owner, but a feral cat may benefit from being humanely captured, spayed, or neutered, and released back into the community as part of a Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program.

What should you do if you find a stray cat – Steps:

1. Assess the cat’s health and safety

Before taking any further steps, first you should assess the health and safety of the stray cat. This will help ensure that both the cat and the person handling the situation are protected.

a) Check for any obvious signs of injury or illness

The first step is to search for visible symptoms of injury or disease, such as wounds, limping, drainage from the eyes or nose, or any other physical indicators that the cat is in trouble.

b) Determine if the cat is approachable

The next stage is to establish whether or not the cat is approachable. Stray cats might be afraid and hide, so approach them gently and quietly to avoid startling them.

If the cat is aggressive or looks to be wounded, it is better to seek expert assistance.

aggressive and scared stray cat that is hissing
A scared stray cat hissing

2. Try to find the cat’s owner

Before you start emotionally attaching yourself to a cat, you should first try to find its owner. Someone may be desperately searching for their cat so it’s important that you try finding the owner.

Here are a couple of steps you can take to find the cat’s owner:

a) Check for identification tags or microchips

Checking for identifying tags or a microchip is one of the easiest and most successful ways to discover a cat’s owner.

If the cat is wearing a tag that includes its owner’s contact information, you may simply call them and arrange for the animal’s return.

A veterinarian or animal shelter can scan the cat’s microchip and collect the owner’s details from a database if it has one.

b) Ask your neighbors, post on social media, and hang out the posters

If the cat lacks identification marks or a microchip, you might contact your neighbors to see if they recognize the cat.

You may also use social media platforms like Facebook or Nextdoor or simply hang out the posters in your neighborhood to see if anyone in your area has lost a cat that fits the description.

Make sure to include a photo of the cat as well as your contact information.

stray cat sitting in the woods
A stray cat in the woods

3. Provide temporary care

If you find a stray cat, it’s important to take proper care of the feline until its owner can be found or a permanent solution can be reached.

Below are the things to provide the stray cat to cater to its immediate needs:

a) Food and water

Provide food and fresh water to the stray cat, especially if it has been on its own for a while. You can buy special wet or dry cat food from a shop, or you simply can give her the remaining pieces of meat from your plate.

b) Provide a safe place

It’s a good idea to provide a stray cat with a safe place to dwell. If you don’t want to bring the stray cat yet in your house there are ways to provide shelter to the cat outdoors.

To shelter your stray cat against the weather elements, you can simply provide her with an outdoor cat house, which you can buy or build yourself. The outdoor cat house should guard the cat against rain and wind and keep her warm.

If you have a well-covered porch you may also opt for a heated cat bed. This will not offer as much protection as an outdoor shelter but it will still provide a cozy and warm place for your stray to rest.

stray cat sleeping outdoors on the ground
A stray cat sleeping outdoors on the ground

c) Toys

Playing is a very important part of a cat’s life which can facilitate and speed up the bond with a stray cat. There are plenty of various interactive cat toys on the market that you can start playing with your cat.

Playing not only stimulates the cat’s well-being and strengthens your bond with her but also directs your attention to a cat that cats adore.

4. Contact local animal welfare organizations

The next step after providing temporary care for the cat is to reach out to local animal welfare organizations for further assistance.

a) Explain the situation and ask for advice

When contacting local animal welfare organizations, it’s important to provide a clear and detailed description of the cat’s situation.

Explain whether the cat is approachable, any obvious signs of injury or illness, and any information that may help identify the cat’s owner.

The organization can then provide advice on what steps to take next, including whether it would be appropriate to bring the cat in for medical treatment or to a shelter for temporary housing.

b) Bring the cat to a shelter or a veterinary clinic for medical treatment

In certain situations, the cat may need to be sent to a veterinarian clinic or a local animal shelter for medical treatment. In this scenario, offer to bring the cat in yourself or inquire whether the group can provide transportation.

This is a critical step in ensuring the cat receives the care it requires to recover and find a permanent home.

dirty stray cat sitting on the pavement in the city
A stray cat with dirty fur sitting on the pavement in the city

5. Consider adopting the stray cat

Adopting a stray cat may be a rewarding experience for the pet as well as the owner. One of the advantages of having a pet is the emotional support and company it offers.

Having a furry buddy to cuddle with on the couch after a hard day at work may considerably improve your quality of life.

Furthermore, studies have shown that having a pet can have physical health advantages such as stress reduction and decreased blood pressure.

It’s vital to remember, however, that cat ownership comes with duties. Frequent feeding, fresh water, and regular trips to a veterinarian for check-ups and vaccines are all part of healthy cat care. You should also include in the cost of pet maintenance, which includes food, toys, litter, and medical costs.

Consider whether you can give the required care and financial resources to a stray cat before making the choice to adopt it. Give the cat a warm and loving home if you decide to go forward, and you’ll be rewarded with years of friendship and delight.

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