Tips for Dealing with Stray and Feral Cats

The stray cat population is a growing concern in cities and suburbs across the nation and one that needs to be addressed in the most humane way possible by individuals, communities and organizations.

There are many reasons for cats becoming homeless. Often, it’s because caregivers move and no longer want the cat and it’s left behind or they are moving to a place that doesn’t allow cats. They may no longer be able to afford to buy food or provide veterinarian care or they have a female cat that is or will become pregnant and they can’t afford to have her spayed.

If you find a stray cat, safety is an important consideration. Stray domestic cats on their own for a short period of time may still remain friendly and approachable. Stray domestic cats on their own for an extended amount of time will become less domesticated and more cautious and true feral cats born in the wild will have had little to no contact with humans. Until you know which type you’re dealing with, do not attempt to touch the cat.

The next step is gaining their trust whether you plan to adopt the cat or trap and place him in a safe, non-kill shelter where he’ll be available for adoption. To begin the “trust me” process, place food and water in a quiet location. Distance yourself so the cat will not be afraid to approach the food. Talk to the cat in a soft and friendly tone keeping your voice gentle and reassuring. Use the same tone with each encounter. His reaction to your voice will speak volumes. Don’t make sudden movements; just stand quietly and continue to talk soothingly.

It may take several days of feeding to gain his trust. During this time, heed any warning signals such as growling, hissing and flattening of ears. Continue talking and let him become accustomed to your presence and scent and initiating any contact such as sniffing your hand. There’s no set time to winning his trust so don’t rush and do anything that will jeopardize what’s been established. Always keep in mind that a stray may have been abused or injured while being on its own making it fearful. Allow them ample room and time to adjust so they can learn to trust you.

If you plan to adopt the cat, call your veterinarian and ask about the process for bringing in a stray cat, once it’s been captured, and what precautions should be taken. Contact local rescue organizations for help with trapping the cat.

Stray cats need our help through adoption and rescue. If you’re unable to adopt, contact stray and feral cat rescue organizations for information on how to have the cat safely trapped and cared for.

Whatever you can do to help will make a difference in these cat’s lives.