Taking A Stray Cat Into Your Home As A Pet
Most people see cats and kittens outdoors from time to time. What most people don't know is that there are many more stray cats living outside than they realize. This is because a lot of stray cats only come out at night because they are too afraid to be seen in the daylight. If you don't believe me, try putting some cat food outside for a few nights and you will be amazed at how many cats that will come around.
If you do put food outside, and if you are a cat lover like I am, then you have to decide what to do about the stray cats you find. There are several options available:
- Just keep feeding the cat outdoors
- Just keep feeding the cat outdoors, but also take it to the vet and get it spayed or neutered
- Take the cat to a shelter
- Take the cat into your home as a pet
Just Keep Feeding the Cat Outdoors
This is also a good way of making friends with the cat. So even if you eventually decide on one of the other options listed above you will have a much easier time catching the cat. Even tame cats are often afraid of humans they don't know. If you continue to feed the cat every evening at the same time then you will find that the stray will learn what time the food is coming and will consistently show up at feeding time. Over time the cat will learn to trust you. This is true for tame cats only. Feral cats will almost always run away, even from humans that feed them on a regular basis.
Feed the Cat Outdoors, But Also Get The Cat Spayed or Neutered
This is assuming that the cat is tame enough for you to catch. If you are unable to catch the cat to get it spayed or neutered, or to bring it into your home as a pet, then please see the article How To Catch Stray Cats.
If you are unable to bring the cat indoors (perhaps you already have enough pets in your home) and if you are able to catch the cat, then you would be doing a great public service if you get the cat spayed or neutered. At least in this way the cat won't breed and make more stray, unwanted cats. Many animal shelters will spay or neuter stray animals at a reduced cost. You should check with your local animal shelter to see if they provide these services.
You Could Take the Stray to A Local Shelter
If you take the cat to a local shelter keep in mind that many shelters are already overcrowded. Because of this, many cats and kittens are euthanized at shelters because there isn't enough room for all of them. Some people feel it is best to take a cat to a shelter rather than leave it outdoors on its own. I have mixed feelings about this, and one very good veterinarian that I trust a lot has told me that she believes that animals fare just about as well outdoors with someone providing food and water for the animal as cats do that end up in shelters. I think that this is because so many animals are put to death in shelters because there isn't enough room to house them all. This is why helping to reduce the cat population by getting your cat spayed or neutered is so important.
Take the Stray Into Your Home As Your New Pet Cat
You can decide to take the stray into your home as a pet. This is the best option for the well-being of the cat. If you decide to do this there are several things you should know. If you were able to make friends with the stray cat then you can usually catch the cat rather easily.
Shortly before you catch the cat and bring him or her inside, you should set up a room in your home to keep the cat in for the first few days. There should not be any other animals allowed in this room. The room should have some bedding or blankets for the cat to sleep on, a litter box, a bowl of fresh water, and some food. It generally works best to give the cat a can of cat food when you first bring it in and then to leave the room for a little while so that the cat can get used to his or her new surroundings.
The very next thing you should do, if you haven't already, is to call a veterinarian and make an appointment to get the cat an examination and his or her vaccinations. You should also tell the vet that you want your cat tested for feline leukemia and FIV. These tests are usually combined into one blood test that can be done right in your veterinarian's office.
The reason the vet trip is so important is because stray cats usually have a variety of internal and external parasites. Almost ALL stray cats have fleas, and some have earmites. Don't use an over the counter flea preparation, get flea medication from your vet. Flea treatments have greatly improved and you vet can treat your cat for fleas during the examination. When you call to make the vet appointment you should tell the vet that you will bring in a stool sample so that the cat can be checked for internal parasites. You can put your cat's stool sample in a ziplock bag the morning of the vet appointment.
Often you will find that stray cats have tapeworms. If you happen to see what looks like moving grains of rice in your stray cat's room or bedding this means that your cat has tapeworms. The moving grains of rice are actually tapeworm segments. Don't worry, you won't catch tapeworms from your cat by coming into contact with the segments. If you see these, then tell your veterinarian this when you take your cat in for his or her appointment.
If you already have animals in your house, then you should keep the stray cat in a separate room until it has been checked out by the vet, tested for feline leukemia and FIV, and all of the internal and external parasites are gone.
Once all of the parasites have been treated and are completely gone then do a complete litter change and clean out the litter box, and wash all of the stray cat's bedding.
In a short time your new stray cat will become an important and loved member of your family such as these two have become: