Thousands of stray cats roam the streets all around the USA and Canada. Depending on where you live, you might cross paths with one! Should you choose to look after a cold, scared, hungry fur baby and help them find a forever home, make sure you go about rescuing the right way in order to keep the cat and themselves safe.
Here are some steps you can take to help out your friendly neighborhood felines.
Provide shelter and fresh water
Before attempting to trap a stray, the best thing you can do for the cat is provide water and shelter. You can purchase or make your own feral cat box, which is like a dog house for cats. This miniature shelter will offer a safe place to sleep away from predators and inclement weather. You could also put a pet-safe heating or cooling pad inside the cat box to keep them comfortable during extreme temperatures.
Place a water bowl in the yard and keep it filled with fresh drinking water. There are heated water bowls on the market to prevent water from freezing in the winter. During the summer, an insulated bowl can provide ice-cold water all day. Pop it in the freezer first, and the gel core will keep water cold on sweltering hot days.
As tempting as it may seem, cat lovers should never feed a stray. They’ll grow dependent on you as their main food source rather than fend for themselves. Leaving food in the yard can attract other stray cats, which will make you responsible for not one but a whole group of strays! Plus, you don’t want your resident pets to interact with strays in case of aggression or disease.
Contact a rescue organization to trap the cat
Trapping a cat is very tricky, but it’s the best and most humane way to care for strays. Strays are quite skittish around humans, and any sudden movement can startle them off. You should never forcefully grab a stray cat because they’re bound to get fearful and aggressive. Handling a distressed cat will no doubt result in more than a few scratches for everyone involved!
You can’t force interactions with a stray cat. Earning their trust could take days, if not weeks. This is why it is best left to the professionals.
Vet clinics require cats to arrive in carriers to keep other people and their pets safe. If the rescue group suspects the cat belongs to someone, they will de everything in their power to find the cat's owner. This involves visiting a vet and checking for the presence of a microchip. A vet can scan the cat to see if they have an embedded microchip. If they do, the vet will notify the owner using their contact information in the database.
Help foster cats seeking forever homes
Strays left to fend for themselves on the street are at a high risk for disease, injury and attacks from wild animals. Rescue organizations will ensure strays find the forever homes they deserve, but they need help from loving fosters to help cats get back on their feet and find their forever family.
Someone who forms a strong bond with a stray during the fostering period might be able to provide that forever home. They call this a "foster fail", but it's far from a failure! You will need to complete the proper adoption process: a license, microchipping, core vaccines and a wellness exam. But then you will have a new furry member of your own family.
As a cat lover, it’s understandable that you’d want to help a stray by whatever means necessary. There are proper ways to rescue stray cats, and it doesn’t involve feeding and bringing them into your home. By following the advice discussed here, you have the best chance of taking strays off the streets and putting them into the best care possible.