First, is it really a stray? Or is it merely an opportunist who goes from house to house looking for tasty handouts? Many people let their cats roam outdoors, in spite of the hazards of traffic and predators who can maim or kill their pet. This does not necessarily make him a stray.
A stray cat is a cat that has been somewhat socialized, because they were at some point someone’s pet. Either they ran away, got lost or the family moved away and left their cat behind. Sadly, too many people will abandon their pet thinking their cat will find a new home and can feed itself. This is not always true. A cat who has become dependent on people for food and shelter may very well starve to death if left to its own devices.
If the cat is thin and scraggly with bones showing at the hips and ribs, it’s a stray and needs food and shelter immediately.
A mistreated cat will be wary of you, even if you try to feed it. You may have to gain its trust before you can catch it.
If you do decide to give the stray shelter, keep him or her separate from your own household pets. At least until you’ve had a vet check it over for infectious diseases. You don’t want to jeopardize your pet’s life and well-being while trying to help an abandoned kitty.
Here are several things you can do, to try and locate a stray’s owner:Post a notice with a good and thorough description in your local newspaper – don’t forget to include your name and phone numberTake a picture poster to your local police dept. or the animal control centerPlace picture posters around the neighborhood, and ask neighbors if they know of the cat, or of someone who has moved recentlyPlace picture posters at your local veterinarian offices
If you have no luck finding the stray’s owner, and cannot keep the stray yourself (either because you have enough cats already, or the ones you have won’t accept a new addition) look in your phone book for a “no-kill” shelter that will take the cat and try to place it in a loving home.
What if it’s a feral cat? A feral cat is a cat who either was once domesticated and reverted to it’s wild state, or is a cat born to a stray or another feral cat. A feral cat is NOT socialized and is not a tame cat. Adult feral cats can usually not be tamed. Kittens can be socialized with work and patience, the older the kitten the more time it takes to socialize them.
Feral cats play a definite role in our society. In urban and rural areas alike, feral cats help keep the rodent population under control, which in turn keeps disease down.
In very recent times, feral cats were caught and euthanized. This can be a very expensive undertaking. It is becoming more common to catch, neuter and return the feral cat to its territory, where it will defend that territory against other intruding cats. This helps keep the feral cat population down and is a more economical solution to feral cats.
On a different note, you might also want to know how to stop cats from spraying in the house.