Is It A Bad Idea To Feed Stray Cats
Most people feel that feeding strays is a good deed. In many respects, its true because youre helping a hungry cat to survive. However, feeding a stray doesnt always have positive ramifications. There are many reasons to avoid feeding them, and even animal welfare groups and veterinarians advise against doing so.
Wild In The Streets: The Life And Health Of Stray And Feral Cats
Feral cats often live in vacant lots, dodge cars, and eat from trash cans face infection, disease, and an endless cycle of pregnancy and suffer extremes in treatment and weather. The life of a feral, stray, or abandoned cat is often short, sometimes lasting for just two or three years.
Of course, feral cats also leave issues on the human doorstep — including noisy fights, odor, urinating to mark territory , flea infestations, and the inevitable breeding that creates even more unwanted cats.
Many experts agree that one of the best ways to help feral cats and cat groups — called colonies — is through neutering programs.
Should You Feed Stray Cats
You should feed stray cats by maintaining proper hygiene so that you do not get contaminated by infections.
Feeding stray animals is instinctively the correct thing to do. All cats, regardless of whether they have a home or not, require affection.
Strays have a lot to cope with while theyre out in the wild. Strays face a difficult existence, from traffic to territorial clashes with other cats.
Many animal welfare activists advise against feeding strays, which may come as a surprise. This is because, even though it appears to be the proper thing to do, there are repercussions to this behaviour.
According to some estimates, there are as many as 100 million feral cats in the United States.
They are mainly the offspring of abandoned or lost pets that have become wild animals with no human interaction and rely on scavenging to survive.
They eventually form colonies wherever they can find food and shelter.
Cats kill nearly 2.4 billion birds and 12.3 billion animals per year, according to one research published in the journal Nature Communications, significantly more than previously estimated.
Although many cat advocates questioned how those estimates were generated, no one can deny that cats are hunters and that wildlife is frequently harmed as a result.
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How You Know Youve Been Adopted By A Stray Cat
When a cat starts coming around your house and looking for attention, begging for food or trying to sneak in your front door, theres a good chance youve been adopted, explains Megan Phillips, BS, ADBC.
Phillips is a cofounder of Train With Trust, a Colorado Springs-based company that offers personalized behavior solutions for owners of all types of animals. And if you start leaving food out, theres no question. That cat will keep coming back.
Phillips does note, however, that not all cats that come around begging are necessarily stray cats. She suggests that some cats may be indoor/outdoor cats that belong to a neighbor something about your yard or area.
Elise Gouge, a certified dog and cat behavior consultant and owner of Pet Behavior Consulting, LLC in Granby, Massachusetts, notes that while you may feel special that a cat has chosen your yard as her new hangout spot, she might have other adoptees in your area. Some cats are good at making the neighborhood rounds and having several friends they like to visit, she says.
Before assuming that a cat wants to adopt you, you should check to see if hes wearing a cat ID tag or bring him to a nearby animal hospital or rescue group to have him scanned for a microchip. If the cat has an owner, it is your responsibility to make a genuine effort to reunite cat and owner.
Taking Your Stray Cat To The Vet
While food and shelter are important, Phillips says that the number one priority, especially if you have other cats, is confirming that the stray cat is healthy. You have to ensure that their basic veterinary needs are being taken care of, so if you can, try to catch the cat and bring her to the vet.
It is important to have a cat carrier when transporting your new cat to the veterinarian. The vast majority of veterinarians will require you to use a cat carrier when bringing any cat to the vet. This helps ensure safety and security for all involved.
Phillips recommends putting food in the crate or cat carrier. First, just let the cat eat in the carrier for a few days. Then, start closing the door a bit while hes eating. Then, close it all the way. Then, try latching it. The key is to do everything gradually, she says. Then, after you visit the vet, keep the carrier out. Keep putting food in it. You want the cat to stay used to the carrier.
For feral or stray cats that may not be familiar with cat carriers, your veterinarian may ask you bring them in a trap.
At the vet, the cat should receive basic vaccinations and be spayed or neutered if she or he isnt already, Phillips says.
Fernandez says that by working with rescue organizations, you can usually find a veterinarian who will do vaccinations and spay/neuter procedures at a reduced cost, or even for free. They may also test for feline leukemia, FIV and parasites, and offer low-cost microchips.
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Feeding Feral Or Stray Catswe Can Help
If you are feeding a feral or stray cat
If the cat recently showed up, try to identify where the cat came from to make sure you arent feeding your neighbors or someones lost cat. Try and get the cat back to their home whenever possible. Ask around to see if anyone else is also feeding the cat. More ideas to help find a cat’s home.
Look to see if any of the cats have an ear tip . If they do, the cats have been spayed/neutered and someone may also be feeding them.
Put the cat on a schedule and feed him/her at the same time every day. Pull the food when they are finished eating. Do not free feed. Feed the cat for at least a week before contacting FCCO.
Contact FCCO to schedule an appointment. Clinics are currently in SW Portland. You can call us at 503-797-2606 or you can complete our spay/neuter form and we will follow up with you.
If you know someone who is feeding feral or stray cats
If you have become aware of feral or stray cats at a specific location
Ear Tipped Feral Cat
If no one is feeding the cats, are you willing to feed them?
Maybe with some help from friends, neighbors or family members it could be a joint effort. We know it is a big commitment, but please don’t look the other way. The cats need your help. We are here to assist you in getting the cats spayed/neutered.
How To Get A Stray Cat To Come To You
Be cautious when approaching an unknown cat, Arce advised. It may be fearful and attempts to capture it could lead to injuries for you or the animal.
Some strays may be friendly and approach you for food or attention, while others may be too scared to let you get close, said the Humane Society. “But they will usually eat immediately if you put food down for them.”
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The Problem With Relocation And Eradication
Some people advocate relocating or âputting downâ feral cats instead. Relocation may sound like a humane solution, but it is ultimately ineffective due to the âvacuum effect.â Feral cats gather where there are resources: food, water, and shelter. When an existing colony is relocated , before long a new flock of feral cats will discover the same resources and move in to âfill the vacuum.â
Relocation is unappealing for other reasons. Because cats are very territorial, a relocated cat may try to find its way home, suffering accident or death on the way. The relocation area may already have an established colony or it may lack food, water, or shelter. Unless a colonyâs life is in danger, most experts agree that relocation is almost always a bad solution.
Most people are not willing to support eradication, either. With a TNR effort, âpeople will give their time, money, and resources,â says Slater, author of Community Approaches to Feral Cats. âBut if youâre catching and euthanizing cats, in most cases you just wonât get volunteers to do that.â
She also sees TNR as a teaching tool. âIt gets people to think about how we can prevent cats from ending up on the street and how we can manage cat populations.â
Nulo Freestyle Chicken & Herring Recipe Grain
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This formula is a combination of real chicken, herring mixed with natural flavour
It contains essential nutrients like protein, moisture, fibre, fat, and taurine.
It is well packaged in a can with an easy-to-open lid.
It is wet food.
It can be eaten by cats at different life stages.
This meal is prepared with natural ingredients.
There are no artificial flavours and preservatives, only natural flavours from locust beans.
It is soft and juicy, making it easily digestible.
It is gluten-free, grain-free, and free of both meat and chicken by-products.
It contains 75% moisture.
It is filled with superfoods like cranberries, kelp, and pumpkin, vitamins, minerals, healthy omegas, and taurine.
The meal when opened has an inviting aroma.
It is very economical.
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How To Tell If The Cat Is A Pet Or A Stray Cat
Stray cats dont always look malnourished if they live in an area where people set food out for them. However, most strays look malnourished, have rough coats, and have an unhealthy appearance. Some strays are domesticated cats that lost their way back home and need food and water.
Outdoor cats that are pets often have a well-kept look and are not malnourished. While they might appreciate food and water, they are mostly exploring the outdoors. They will have a collar with a tag with an address on it. Or, they might be chipped. Either way, pet cats dont need the same level of care from you as a stray cat might.
A stray cat might be a feral cat, in which case the cat will not come near you if you call it. But, once you set the food and water down and leave the area, the cat will come to the area to eat.
How To Handle Stray Cats
When dealing with a stray cat, youre going to make sure that it truly is a stray and not just a cat that is wandering around but spoken for. Look for tell-tale signs like collars and tags. Strays tend to have more scars and bruises. Another indicator is that they are almost never spayed/neutered.
Its not always foolproof, however, as cats are increasingly being microchipped under the skin and might not have any identifiable information that you can see. Either way, even an owned cat can get lost from time to time, and may still require your assistance.
There are many best practices when taking care of a stray cat. You should always make sure that you handle it cautiously and tend to any needs. The first and foremost of which will probably be food.
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Boneless Cooked Meat Chicken Lamb Beef
Feeding a cat cooked meat is also a great option. You can either feed the meat on its own or add some scrambled eggs or a small amount of plain boiled rice.
Do not feed raw meat as it has much more bacteria and the stray might not be in great health or could have a sensitive stomach so it is a lot safer to cook the meat before offering it.
Where Should You Feed A Stray Cat
Cats are habitual animals. They will come back to the same spot at the same time if they found food and water there before. Alley Cat Allies recommends feeding stray cats somewhere discreet that is accessible to your residence but away from busy roads or neighbors as much as possible. Additionally, creating feeding stations, which can be something as simple as a plastic storage container with an entry hole cut into the side, can keep the food and water safe from the elements. Cats also tend to feel more safe when they are up high, so placing food and water bowls on ledges, benches, fences, etc. may make a nervous, shy stray cat feel more comfortable.
Stray cats should also be fed at the same time every day and in the daylight, when able. Feeding in the daylight hours can help deter wildlife from eating the food instead of the cat for whom it is intended. As daylight savings approaches, feeding 10 minutes earlier or later, depending on spring or fall, can help stray cats acclimate better to the time change.
If a stray female cat you are feeding has kittens, you shouldnt be worried about her abandoning her kittens if you start feeding them. She may not warm up to you as quickly, but even if you dont see her, she wont leave her kittens behind.
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Constructing Your Feeding Station
There is nothing worse than having a big bowl of dry cat food that has been rained on it turns to soggy mush and after about a day it can even get moldy. Cats wont want to eat it and YOU will get stuck cleaning it! Feeding stations need to be waterproof.
Ideally, the feeding station you construct should be able to fit your bowls of food and at least one cat, so at a minimum one cat can eat at a time and that poor cat doesnt have to eat out in the rain in inclement weather. Water bowls dont necessarily have to be inside the feeding station, although its nice. If you cant do a station that sizable because of the need for discretion, the bigger priority is to make sure the food stays dry and protected.
A slick and easy way to keep feeding stations dry is to take a large rectangular Rubbermaid storage bin, tip it on its side and put the food bowls in it. The bin serves double duty both as camouflage and it protects the food from the elements. If you get blustery rain where you live, you can take the lid to the storage bin and cut it length-wise and then put it back on the bin, so that the top half acts as an awning of sorts. Zip tie the lid in place. If you need to, you can even place the entire bin on a couple of wood boards or cement blocks so that its up off the ground and out of any puddles.
Transitioning A Stray Cat To Your Home
Before transitioning your stray cat into your care, you will want to make sure you have all the right cat supplies.
According to Delgado, if your new feline friend was previously a house cat, the transition indoors should be relatively easy.
If a cat is hanging out on your back porch, shes probably lived inside before and is socialized to interact with people. In this case, Delgado recommends earning the kittys trust with food and then providing necessities indoors. This includes a cat litter box, a place to snuggle up, and food and water. and a cozy environment will help the cat transition into this new life, she notes.
However, if the stray is a feral cat, this process will take a littleor a lotmore time. You have to gradually increase their comfort by associating your presence with something they really likeusually food, she says.
Delgado says, You absolutely dont want to trap these cats and bring them inside overnight right away. That can be frightening and stressful, as well as detrimental to your long-term goal of turning your stray into a house pet.
To start the process of bringing a feral cat inside, you can put out a cat bowl full of wet food, and then sit near it while the cat eats, moving the bowl closer to you over time until you are able to pet or scratch the cat while he eats. It could also involve a similar process with cat treats. Whatever whets your new cats appetite should be your go-to.
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You Can Encourage Others To Adopt Stray Cats Or Shelter Animals
If you adopt a stray cat yourself, you can also raise the awareness of your family and friends on this important topic.
In fact, if you are a good example of how to make the world a little bit better, your loved ones will also be more willing to take action and to help stray cats or cats from shelters as well.
In turn, many animals will have a much better life in the long run and you should not underestimate the positive difference you can make by taking care of stray cats.
Now that you got all the advantages of feeding a feral cat, lets talk about the downsides to it so that you get a profound picture of whether you really want to feed stray cats or not.