What to Know About Taking in Stray Cats

The cat has been hanging around for a while, obviously hungry. Or he or she just showed up out of the blue, obviously someone’s pet. Maybe you found him in a dangerous situation, such as a busy parking lot. You want to help the kitty in question, and you should, but there are things you need to know about taking in stray cats.

Stray vs. Feral Cat

There’s a distinct difference between taking in a stray vs. a feral cat. Some stray cats are shy, but they are socialized. Feral cats are wild, and the odds of catching them without a trap are minimal. A stray cat may approach you and act very friendly. A feral cat is afraid and won’t come close to people.

Try to Find the Owner

Sometimes, it’s obvious a stray cat has no home. The cat is in poor condition and has likely been abandoned. A well-fed cat, on the other hand, may reside in the neighborhood. Notify the local animal control agency that you found the cat and send them a photo and description. Post information about the cat on local social media. If someone claims it is their pet, make sure they offer some sort of proof, such as a photo.

Separate Your Cats

If you have cats at home, keep them separate from the stray feline. You don’t know if the cat is vaccinated or carrying any diseases. The cat should go to the vet for treatment and a clean bill of health before any household feline introductions. Your vet will tell you how long to keep the stray quarantined.

If bringing the stray into the house, keep it confined in a room or large crate with food, water, a litter box, and a bed. Try to place the crate in a low-traffic, quiet area of the home.

A Veterinary Visit

Take the cat to a veterinarian to scan for an ID microchip. If the vet finds one, you should be able to find the owner’s name and contact information. Have the vet examine the cat for any health problems. The vet can usually tell if the animal has been spayed or neutered.

The cat will require deworming, parasite treatment, and vaccinations. The vet will provide information about spaying and neutering options.

When Is a Cat No Longer a Stray?

There’s no hard-and-fast rule about when a cat transitions from stray to household pet. If you feed the cat regularly, he may no longer be a stray. If you name him, he’s well on his way to pet status. Stray cats often possess the astonishing ability to morph from undernourished street or backyard creature to contented feline curled up on the living room sofa. At that point, she’s found her home.

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