What to do about a stray cat

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Dog with Cat
This former stray, Ma Ma Kitty Franklin, quickly bonded with her new brother, Copeland
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If you've found a stray cat, what to do should be first thing you consider

If you find a stray cat, "What to do next" may be what you are left wondering. “Do I have to keep it? Should I feed it? Is it safe to approach a stray?”

Don’t do anything yet! Keep reading; there are a few things you may want to consider upon finding a wandering feline.

The first thing to do is to determine whether the animal is a stray or a feral cat. It would be extremely reckless to skip this step. A stray feline is a domestic pet that has either been lost or abandoned. This means that strays have been pets before and will likely know how to interact with humans. Unlike a lost animal, a feral feline typically shows signs of defensive behavior upon being approached.

Exercise your best discretion when determining if the kitty you have found is a homeless or a feral animal. Common defensive behavior includes hissing, raised hairs, and a bristled, raised tail. Keep in mind that these are not the only behaviors that might help you identify it as feral. A feral cat would not be friendly when approached by humans. If the animal is feral, the best option is to leave it alone.

You might wonder why anybody even bothers going through the trouble of capturing a homeless feline.

Animal control is available to handle some strays. Before you consider contacting animal control or a shelter, you should be aware of how these places operate. At these types of facilities, animals that are taken in with minor injuries are, in some instances, held for a short period of time before they are later euthanized. Animal control and some animal shelters are still reasonable options in some situations. Do your research about the shelter you are contacting. Make sure you’re informed about their policies, and then make your decision.

If you are certain the animal you have found is a lost pet, then you can approach the animal. While trying to lure a homeless animal, you should always be safe and use caution. Do not be hesitant to call for backup if you do not feel comfortable retaining the kitty. You can call local animal control.

After the cat has been retained, look for identification tags. Read lost pet ads from your local community. Try and find the owner of the animal by telling neighbors. Take it to the vet and have it scanned for an identifying microchip. Put up posters and contact shelters.

If you plan on allowing the found animal inside of your home, make sure you prepare yourself for the responsibility of your new pet. Understand that it is going to take the animal time to adjust to your home.

Provide your new cat with its own room. The room should be escape proof, quiet, and easily cleaned. The room should basically be empty. You may want to put a carrier inside of the room or a box so that he can have a hiding place. Toys and a scratching post are good items to have in the room. Most importantly, provide water and litter. It isn’t a good idea to put food in the room because feeding time should be personal. Bringing the food yourself will begin a bond with your new friend! 

After you have established a safe shelter, you should ask yourself these questions and answer them honestly: “Am I willing to add this animal to my household? Am I willing to return him to its owner, if the owner turns up?” If you have answered “no” to either question, then your best option is to contact a shelter or the local animal control for assistance.

Adding a new pet to your family is exciting, but you should still consider whether or not you can financially factor your new pet into your household. You may want to consider the cost of a veterinarian. It’s recommended that the stray cat should be tested for any diseases as well as spayed or neutered. You don’t want to give fleas to your other pets or risk the health of your new pet, so make sure to see a vet before you give your stray a home. 

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