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How To Adopt A Feral Cat

Why Are Outdoor Cats Considered A Problem

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Nuisance behaviors, such as urinating and defecating in someone’s yard or garden, digging in someone’s yard or garden, jumping on someone’s car and upsetting an owned cat are the greatest concerns that the general public has about outdoor cats.

Overpopulation is a serious concern as well. In the United States, approximately two percent of the 30 to 40 million community cats have been spayed or neutered. These cats produce around 80 percent of the kittens born in the U.S. each year. Although 85 percent of the estimated 75 to 80 million pet cats in the U.S. are already spayed or neutered, many have kittens before they are spayed or neutered. Those kittens, especially if they are allowed outdoors, add to the number of outdoor cats and the problems associated with them.

Shelters in a community with a large population of outdoor cats who aren’t spayed or neutered may experience these problems:

  • More cats entering shelters as a result of trapping feral adults and kittens young enough to be socialized .
  • A rise in euthanasia rates for all cats because adult feral cats can’t be adopted.
  • Euthanasia of adoptable cats when cage space runs out.
  • Costs associated with trapping and/or caring for and euthanizing feral cats.

In addition, shelters receive many nuisance complaints about outdoor cats, including:

Adopting A Stray Cat: Not A Spontaneous Decision

Firstly, this needs to be a well-thought-out, responsible decision. A stray cat needs help, but its also going to be extremely mistrustful of humans. This is especially true if the cat has been abused, and may have also undergone trauma that has made them become aggressive.

If you want a cat but adoption seems like too much responsibility, you can always foster one while a shelter or organization finds a more permanent home and family for them.

Use extreme caution if youre going to try to take a stray cat home. It would almost be more surprising if they didnt try to bite or scratch you. A soft tone of voice and tasty treat are both extremely helpful in this situation. It can also be good idea to ask a vet, shelter, or expert for help. Youll also need some kind of carrier to bring the cat to your home safely.

How To Adopt A Stray Cat

Ask many Americans how they found their beloved pet cat, and often you’ll hear the familiar reply — “Our cat found us!” By some accounts, nearly half of all cat owners have gained their feline family members in this way. Adopting a stray cat is a gesture of compassion that rewards you with a pet’s loving devotion. Additionally, there is no more humane way for us to reduce the feral cat population many stray cats haven’t been spayed or neutered.

Before adopting a stray, you must make sure you aren’t inadvertently adopting a pet who already has a family. It’s often difficult to tell whether a cat is lost, abandoned or actually feral. Grooming, the presence of a collar, and certain behaviors could provide clues, but are often misunderstood. A well-groomed cat, for example, could be a wandering pet, a newly abandoned pet or a well-adjusted feral cat. Lack of collar could mean that the cat has no owner, but many cats notoriously rip their collars off and therefore have microchip IDs. Get a microchip scan talk to neighbors advertise on lampposts and classifieds and talk to local shelters and vets to rule out the possibility that a responsible pet owner is in this cat’s life.

Your friendship with the wary, yet curious, stray cat begins with food . The urge to provide food already exists in all pet-lovers anyway, and demonstrates your caring nature to the stray cat.

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You May Be Accustomed To Using These Terms Interchangeably But Feral Cats And Stray Cats Are Actually Very Different

A feral cat was lost or abandoned and has reverted to a wild state, or was born to a stray or feral mother and has had little or no human contact. These cats cannot cohabitate with people. They live in families or groups called colonies that form near a source of food and shelter. A feral cat is silent, will not approach humans and will generally only be seen from dusk to dawn. He is very adaptable and generally well-groomed. If you put food down, feral cats will wait until you move away before approaching the food. Sometimes feral kittens up to 8 to 10 weeks of age can be socialized and adopted into homes.

A stray cat was once a pet. He can be re-socialized and adopted. A stray cat is likely to approach you, although not close enough for you to touch him. If you put food down, a stray cat will likely start to eat right away. He is often vocalsometimes talking insistentlyand may look disheveled, as if he is unaccustomed to dealing with the conditions of the street. A stray can be seen at all times of the day.

You may also have heard the term community cat, which encompasses all outdoor cats – both feral and stray.

Do Use Food Strategically

How To Adopt A Feral Cat (With images)

Your relationship with a wary, yet curious, stray cat begins with food. Along with time and patience, food can play a key role in developing her trust in you. Cats tend to domesticate themselves for a stable food source. Initially, it is crucial that you follow a regular feeding schedule so that she learns that you are the unfailing supplier of her food. Once she is comfortable eating the food you provide, begin sitting in the room while she eats. Without interfering with her or the food, gradually initiate interactions, speaking to her softy and gently and moving slowly around the room to desensitise her to your presence and show her that you are not a threat.

Providing food treats outside of mealtimes can also help to build your relationship and develop her trust. Keep special treats on hand to entice her to adapt to her new domestic life as well as to encourage her to do new and scary things. To initiate physical contact, try putting a bit of her favourite food on your finger to entice her to lick it off. It may take some time and numerous attempts until she is comfortable to do so but letting her approach you of her own accord will facilitate her trust in you.

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Earning Your Stray Cats Trust

Some stray cats will be friendly right off the bat, but with others, it may take time and patience to establish trust. If a cat is not comfortable with humans, they will mostly scratch or bite if you attempt to handle them. Go slow and always allow the cat a way to leave the situation so that they don’t feel cornered, says Gouge.

You need to have time, and you need have patience. The cat will come to you when hes ready. If you try to force it, he will run, Fernandez says.

The main way into your new feline friends heart is through his stomach. Food is critical, Phillips says. Start approaching the cat slowly, over several days or even weeks. Eventually, youll be able to get pretty close without scaring him off.

I’ve Got/found A Cat In Labour What Should I Do

If you’ve found a pregnant cat who you think is in labour, please give her plenty of space to avoid disturbing her. The best way to help is to try and locate the cat’s owner. Please post on local social media groups or speak to neighbours to see if anybody knows her.

You can also help by placing a shallow bowl of water nearby for her to use – this really needs to be done with minimal disturbance though so still keep a good distance. Also, depending upon the weather, placing some shelter nearby could help keep her shaded from the sun and sheltered from cold winds.

Please do keep an eye on mum to check she’s doing ok. If you can’t find the owner please call a local animal rescue centre for advice on what to do when the kittens arrive. It’s always best to avoid disturbing the mum which could cause unnecessary problems for the kittens. Many cats give birth without needing any help at all but signs she may be having difficulty include:

  • If between 30 and 60 minutes of intense straining she doesn’t produce a kitten or a kitten seems to be stuck.
  • The mother seems to be noticeably distressed.
  • If she seems lethargic or has passed an unpleasant discharge or is bleeding heavily from her vulva.
  • Although green/brown/red discharge, while the kittens are being born, is normal.

If you see any of these signs or if mum is at risk because she is near a busy road or building then please call a local vet, animal rescue or call our advice line but never put yourself in danger.

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Have Some Playtime With Your Cat

Playing with a feral cat will create a stronger bond. Dangle strings and catnip-filled mice near them. Maybe they wont be interested at first, but with a little persistence, they should be wiggling their butt as they attack tinsel balls.

Even though you may struggle for months, you may never get yourself a ‘lap cat’, but there’s a large chance you can rescue a feral cat from the traumatic, difficult life it’s accustomed to. Good luck with the transformation process, and let us know how your training is going!

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What If You Have Other Cats

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If you already have other cats, things can get a bit more complicated. The most important thing here will be their own personalities. Unfortunately, most cats are naturally mistrustful to begin with, especially if the cat you chose to adopt is a stray.

A carrier is a huge help during the first encounter. Leave the stray cat inside the carrier and put it in a central room in the house, somewhere all other cats can enter. Theyll start by sniffing, introducing themselves, and get familiar with each other in their own ways. Plus, being in the carrier will help the stray feel safe and comfortable when meeting the other cats.

If the encounter goes well, you can let the stray cat out and let the cats inspect each other normally. Of course, you should still stick around to watch over them.

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Won’t Removing Community Cats From An Area Eliminate The Problem

There are many reasons cat problems are rarely solved by trapping and removing a colony. Community cats live at a certain location because it offers food and shelter. If a colony is removed, cats from surrounding colonies may move in to take advantage of the newly available resources. The cycle of reproduction and nuisance behavior begins all over again.

If all the cats in a colony are not trapped, then the ones left behind will tend to have larger litters of kittens. The kittens are more likely to survive because there are fewer cats competing for food. The colony’s population will continue to increase until it reaches the number that can be supported by the available food and shelter.

Here are some of the other factors that usually make trap and removal ineffective:

  • No input from the cats’ caretakers, who are the only people who really know the cats’ numbers and patterns and can control whether or not the cats are hungry enough to enter a baited trap.
  • No volunteers to trap cats, who face an uncertain fate or death upon capture.
  • Little to no animal control staff and money available to accomplish the task.
  • No strategy for the difficult task of catching all the cats in a colony.
  • No one watching out for pet cats who are lost or abandoned, aren’t spayed or neutered and quickly repopulate a vacated territory.

When Did You See It

If you see a cat out roaming at night, it is most likely feral. Feral cats tend to have more nocturnal behavior. Cats out and about during the day, are more likely to be strays or outdoor cats with a home. Strays and housecats are crepuscular, which means they tend to be more active at dawn and dusk.

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Do People Take Care Of Community Cats How

Many people see a cat who seems homeless and start feeding the cat. Ideally, the person quickly does more to help the cat:

  • If the cat is tame, the first step is to try to find the cat’s owner. If the owner can’t be found, step two is to try to find a permanent home for the cat through a shelter, rescue or other means.
  • If the cat is feral, unapproachable and wary after several days of feeding, it’s best to find out if there are any groups doing TNR in the community so at least the cat can be spayed or neutered. If there are no local groups, step two is to consult one of the many resources that provide information about TNR.

Once a cat or colony of cats has been TNR-ed, it’s ideal if a dedicated caretaker provides food, water and shelter, monitors the cats for sickness or injury and TNRs new feral cats who arrive. Ideally, kittens young enough to be socialized and new tame cats who arrive are removed from the colony for possible adoption.

Many dedicated caretakers pay for TNR themselves to help improve the lives of cats and reduce their numbers. Without TNR and a dedicated caretaker trapping new cats who show up, the population of the colony could increase.

Feral & Community Cats

How To Adopt A Feral Cat

Also known as Outdoor Cats, Alley Cats, Feral Cats, Street Cats, Barn Cats and Tom Cats. Community cats typically encompass any unowned or unclaimed outdoor cat. Many of these types of cats have been lost or abandoned and may receive food or care from one or more residents in a community. Feral cats are cats who are too poorly socialized to be placed in a home as a typical domestic cat.

Ventura County Animal Services intakes thousands of cats each year, some of whom are feral and cannot be adopted to a family as a typical house cat. VCAS supports the management of community cat colonies through TNR . When feral cats enter our shelter system, they are scanned for a microchip to determine if they are owned or already part of an established feral cat colony. If they are part of an established colony, they are already spayed/neutered and vaccinated and can be returned to the area from which they were found if the area is safe to do so. If the area is not safe for them to return the cat may be adopted out as a Working Whiskers cat where he/she will live out their days doing what these cats do hunt and live outdoors.

Feral cats who are not yet part of an established colony will be spayed/neutered, vaccinated, microchipped and ear-tipped. Ear-tipping is the process whereby a tip of the cats right ear is surgically removed so they can clearly be identified in the wild without needing to trap them.

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Determine If The Cat Is A Stray

Try to determine if the cat is lost or abandoned, and not simply a neighbors indoor-outdoor cat.

  • Talk to neighbors to see if they know anything about the cat.
  • Post notices on online social or neighborhood networks such as Facebook or Nextdoor.
  • Post messages on online pet rescue groups or message boards such as the Missing Pet Network.
  • Place signs around the neighborhood asking if the cat belongs to anyone.
  • Contact local shelters to file a Found Cat Report.
  • Contact the shelter in the county where the cat was found, as well as neighboring counties if they are close by.

Do Provide Stimulating Indoor Experiences

To make her new indoor lifestyle more attractive, provide lots of distractions and enjoyable experiences in your home, such as a variety of hiding and resting places in different locations, scratching posts with various types of scratching surfaces , a variety of toys, puzzle feeders, perches near windows that are greater than a metre high so that your cat can look outside and down on the world from a height, lots of love and attention, and extended play sessions every day.

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There Is No Mom Cat Now What

Option 1: Foster the kittens in your home until they are 8 weeks of age.If there isnt a mother cat and the kittens are not yet eating solid food, they will need to be bottle-fed every 2-3 hours. Its important not to offer them cows milk . Buy Kitten Milk Replacement , a product available from pet stores in liquid or dry form that you prepare for the kittens. Pet Food Express offers kitten kits to members of the public as well.

You can sign up to be a temporary kitten foster through the East Bay SPCA or another rescue group could possibly accept the kittens into an adoption program. You can sign up to foster through the East Bay SPCA by filling out our foster application here. You will keep the kittens in your care at your home and we will provide the supplies and medical care and place the kittens for adoption once they are of adoptable age. For additional questions, please contact our Foster team at .

Option 3: If all of the above is not feasible, bring the kittens to the East Bay SPCA.During the Shelter in Place restrictions, please contact us to make an appointment by emailing

Does The Cat Seem To Fear Humans

Why you can still adopt a feral cat

A cat that runs away at your approach, isnt necessarily feral. It could be a stray that is starting to be afraid of people, due to mistreatment. It may also be a cat with a home that doesnt care for strangers. You can tell more by how the cat responds to your continued presence. A stray will likely begin to relax. A feral cat will hide, and if it feels threatened will lash out.

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