Taking in a Stray Cat: 5 Things You Should Know

Taking in a cat that was a stray can be a fun and rewarding experience. Sadly, there are tons of stray cats on the streets because they’ve gone missing, or simply because somebody couldn’t be bothered with them any longer and left them out to fend for themselves.

Whether you’ve found a stray cat that keeps turning up at your house and has appointed you as their new cat parent or you are taking one in who’s ended up at a rescue centre, here are some factors to consider.

Make Sure They Are Actually Stray:

Some cats are experts at pretending that they are stray and starving in order to get a free meal. In fact, you might be feeding somebody’s well-loved cat without even realising it. If the cat is wearing a collar, looks well-fed and has a shiny coat, chances are they’re doing the stray act.

If you’re unsure, you can put a paper collar on the cat with a message to its potential owners or get a vet to scan the cat for a microchip. If the cat is microchipped, you will be able to contact the owners and find out if the cat is lost or if it’s just getting free food out of you.

You’ll Need to Be Patient:

Once you have determined that the cat is indeed a stray and you want to keep it, you’ll need to have plenty of patience with them. Some stray cats might only interact with you in your garden for a while until they trust you enough to come indoors. Or, if you’ve picked a cat up from a shelter and brought them home, they might need some time to acclimatise to their new surroundings.

The best way to do this is to prepare a room for the cat with everything that they need and have them stay in there for a few days before allowing them to roam more freely. They will feel more secure, and it will be easier for them to adjust.

They Might Be Obsessed With Food:

Many stray cats have quickly learned how to scavenge for food and how to beg for it from others. Stray cats are also less likely to have the food aversions that many pet cats have, so you’ll probably have less worried about which brand of food to pick for them, as they will just be happy to have a meal.

However, this could also mean that they try to steal your human food, so make sure that there’s nothing potentially harmful in their reach. Feed them a nutritious, filling diet like raw food from Bella & Duke, which is tailored to your cat to provide them with everything that they need. You can get a free delivery subscription that comes in handy portions to freeze and give to your cat at mealtimes.

You Might Need to Litter Train Them:

Cats who are born into domestication will usually learn to use the litter tray as a kitten by watching their mother, but some stray cats don’t have this opportunity in life. If your cat was born as a stray, then chances are they will have no idea what a litter tray is and how to use one. If they used to be a pet, they might remember and start to use it, or they could need some encouragement.

Either way, arm yourself with plenty of enzyme cleaner in case there are any accidents on your carpets, and provide your cat with the option of a litter tray to use. Cats will naturally prefer to do their business somewhere that is absorbent and easy to bury their pee or poop in. Place it in an area of the house where the cat feels safe and unthreatened. If they tend to use a certain spot to pee or poo, put it there. Don’t forget to keep the litter tray nice and clean, too.

They’ll Probably Want to Go Outdoors:

While an ex-stray cat can make the transition to becoming an all-indoor cat, you will probably find that they are used to spending time outside and will want to continue this. Once you have had your ex-stray cat spayed or neutered if needed and microchipped to you, consider letting them spend time outside if it is safe to do so.

A bell on their collar can help prevent them from killing birds and wildlife in the area. If you’re worried about letting your cat roam free, consider building them a catio. This provides them with a secure outdoor space to spend time in, without the risks of exploring the area on their own.

Whether a stray cat has adopted you or you’ve chosen one that ended up in a shelter, it can be a rewarding experience. One thing’s for sure – your cat will never forget how you gave him the best life, and you’ll always feel appreciated.

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