Most people have encountered a stray cat 3 times in their life. It is estimated that up to 70 million cats roam the streets in the US without a legitimate home or shelter. Over 70% of these homeless cats are feral and not fit for human companionship. Because feral cats are aggressively scared of humans, it makes it very difficult to turn them into house cats. So what are some things you can do if you notice a stray cat living outside your home?
The first thing you want to do is determine if the cat is feral, homeless, or lost. This will allow you to determine the best care action to take for your little furry friend
If the cat is feral it will still be intact if it is a male, or still be looking to mate if it is a female. The cat will likely be shy, scared, or all out aggressive to you if you corner him or her. Feral cats don’t like to be touched, cornered, or approached by people. Period. They will likely appear dirty or even injured with wounds from fights. In this case, you will want to contact a local shelter or vet and see if you can have a trap cage set up. They will do a catch and release of the feral cat so it will become fixed and no longer able to reproduce. This will not only lengthen the cat’s life, but prevent furthering the feral population.
As for homeless cats, these were typically left behind in a move, their owner passed away, or they were simply dropped off in the middle of no where. These cats may appear shy or scared but will warm up to you in no time when food is offered. They may or may not be fixed depending on they age they became homeless. If they are not fixed, even if they do not intend on becoming someone’s forever friend, they should still be taken into a vet to get fixed. These cats make great pets and should be put in a no-kill shelter if one has the room to take them in. If this is not an option, you may choose to care for it outside of your own home. For states that experience cold winters, you can supply a shelter for the little one to keep warm. Using a large plastic storage bin, simply put a cardboard box inside and line the sides, between the box and the bin, with hay or straw. This will allow the cat’s body heat to stay inside the little hideaway. Put hay or straw on the bottom as well for a nice place to lay. Use an old blanket to cover the outside to keep any strong drafts or winds from sneaking in and face it at your house to prevent snow from getting in. The best place to keep this is on a covered porch or in a garage that can be accessed by the cat. Be sure to leave fresh water and food out every day. Avoid feeding at night to prevent raccoon and other night-time critters from stealing it.
In many cases, lost cats will approach just about anyone when they haven’t had food for a few days. They will be the ones most likely to be friendly with you. They will also appear cleaner and healthier as well. Check for tags on a collar or any sign of a microchip scar. If nothing can be found, you can check local missing ads and even place a few of your own as “Found Cat”. Most cats that go missing never find their original home, and it is sad to say this. I would advice finding him or her a new one if no one turns up for it. You may even decide to keep it for yourself. These cats wont do well-being left outside as some may have health issues, no front or back claws, or even sight or hearing issues. Any cat found outside without front claws, or no claws should be taken into a shelter, be it your home or an actual shelter asap as they are defenseless outside.
If you decide to watch after a cat while not taking it into your home or there is no available shelter that will take it in, be sure to provide three important things… Shelter, water, and food. It doesn’t hurt to show them some loving either 🙂