The Stray Kitty
Part 1: Has
a stray cat in your neighborhood tagged you for food and companionship?
If so, here are some
on how to care for
animal, whether you plan to merge it into the family or “fix it” for
a life spent outdoors.
There are thousands upon thousands of free-roaming cats living throughout
our cities. Many will live their lives skulking around homes and businesses,
scavenging food wherever they can find it. They breed, fight, mark property
with urine and feces, and generally cause angst among homeowners.
Some of these creatures will find comfortable homes and affection, thanks
to softhearted animal lovers. Others will continue to endure life on
What does it take to convert a street cat to a family pet? Time and patience.
Mama Kitty came to my home a year ago, pregnant and hungry. It took months
to gain her trust. I respected her space, fed her quietly, and graduated
our relationship slowly to soft-spoken conversations and tentative pats
across her back.
It wasn’t an easy transition for the household. The dog, fortunately,
was accustomed to life with cats … nice cats. Mama, now caring
for kittens, saw Katy as a huge threat. She’d attack with little
Katy was willing to take the high road and avoid Mama. Mama soon learned
to do the same. I negotiated truces daily between the two and often chucked
Mama outside so everyone could breath a little easier, for a short time.
Food, shelter and affection won out. When the kits
went to new homes, Mama (now spayed and fat and happy)
decided the house and the company
was worth keeping. She sleeps inches from the giant dog, and reaches
out a playful paw every once in a while to tap the dog’s leg.
If you do plan on adopting a stray cat, ask yourself first: Am I willing
to spend the time and money to welcome this animal to my home? The cat
should be vaccinated and neutered. At a low-cost clinic, this will cost
between $50 and $75.
Over the next few days I’ll share some suggestions
for anyone who is trying to either adopt a stray cat
or trap, neuter and release a feral
First step: The incredible bonding agent called FOOD
Nothing will attract a stray cat to your home more than food. Deliver
it consistently and in the same safe spot, and the cat will come to depend
on you for its food. Food tip: To lure Mama, I used a dry kibble bought
at Costco — Kirkland’s Signature Cat Food.
• Pick a spot and feed the cat there, day and night. Consider an elevated
location that will be seen as a safe perch for a nervous visitor.
• Keep family pets indoors during feeding times.
• Do not approach the cat as it eats and instead keep your distance.
• Move slowly and avoid sudden movements.
• Remove the food after the cat leaves the scene, otherwise it will attract
the attention of wildlife such as rodents, opossums and raccoons.
• Over time, speak softly to the animal and pick a name that it will hear,
day after day.
• Tell your neighbors to use a loud voice or clap if they want the cat
off their property. Let them know you’re attempting to familiarize the
animal so it can be contained and eventually neutered.