Adopting a stray cat is very appealling. You want to rescue the poor abandoned creature and give it some love. It’s a lovely idea and can be very rewarding.
Read on to find out what you need to consider before adopting a stray cat. It’s a very different proposition from adopting a cat from a shelter.
Approach the cat with caution
Be very wary as you approach the annimal if it’s reluctant to come to you. Stray animals can carry disease and fleas and might be injured, so try to protect yourself and the cat from injury. One of your best bets is tempting the stray cat with food. Be sure to use proper cat food, usually dry food.
Is the cat really a stray?
If the cat comes to you check for a collar. It could be a very lost cat that’s being missed by a family. If that’s the case you can probably reunite cat and owners. Even without a collar, when you take the cat to the vet it will need to be checked for a chip, so don’t get your hopes too high just because there’s no collar.
You need to be particularly careful with kittens. It’s possible their mother has gone looking for food. The kittens may well still be feeding from their mother, so separating them from her will cause great distress, or worse. Cats can sometimes reject or even kill their kittens if a person tries to move them. Monitor the situation for a few hours and intervene if it seems there’s no mother cat caring for the kittens.
What to do next
If the cat doesn’t appear ill or injured and isn’t obviously malnourished, keep an eye on it over a few days. It might just be adventurous and not in need of help. Many cats are what’s termed “community cats”; in other words although they might not have an owner as such, they are are known to a local cat care program. Many of these cats will have been neutered or spayed. This can be indicated by a flat ear top.
If the animal seems unhappy, ill or injured, try to trap it. You might be able to tempt it into a cat carrier with food. If it’s not able to come towards the food you can call the RSPCA/SSPCA or a local cat charity to let them know about the cat and to ask for help.
PETA believes that trapping a stray cat is the best approach. You can read more about PETA’s policy on this here.
Take the cat to the vet
If you catch the cat yourself your first action must be to take it to a vet. As well as ensuring the cat doesn’t have any urgent medical requirements and carrying out routine care such as worming, the vet will check whether the animal is chipped. If there is no collar and no chip, you are free to take the cat home with you.
As with considering any new pet, you need to be sure that the cat will fit in with your life and home. If you are in doubt about this take the cat to a shelter. If it’s your first cat read up on how best to care for your new pet, including installing a Petflap draughtproof pet door. Its quiet and gentle action won’t scare a young or nervous cat and it will make a stylish addition to your home. Fit into a door, window or wall.