January 4, 2019

What You Need To Know Before Adopting A Stray Cat

Stray or feral cats can become wonderful companions and pets if given the right conditions and time. However, adopting a stray cat is very different from adopting one from an animal shelter, humane society or rescue organization. For adoption of kittens, check out this post on "How To Adopt A Kitten".  If you want to know more about adopting a feral kitten, it will be another post for another day. For now, we will focus on adult or mature cats. Stray cats come in all shapes and size, each with their own characters and personalities. Stray cats are feral and that means having lived in the wild for a period of time, they have developed certain habits and traits that are hard to shake off. If you are really interested in adopting a feral cat, there are certain things you need to do and know beforehand.

Observe The Cat Carefully
If you ever encounter a feral or stray cat before, most of the time, the cat will be wary of you. Although some cats are friendly, most will never be comfortable around people. To ensure a cat is suitable for an indoor lifestyle, observe how it reacts to you and other people. If it is friendly, there are high chances you will have found a cat that is suitable as an indoor pet. Otherwise, you may find yourself getting into more troubles than you bargain for.

Earn Its Trust
Slowly earn its trust by visiting the cat daily and feeding it. You should always do it at the same time each day. Once it is more comfortable with your presence, start petting and play with it. If you do that enough and on a consistent basis, the cat will soon learn to trust you and may even follow you home. Sometimes, you may not even have to go to the next step in bringing it home. If the cat trusts you enough, it may even follow you home.

Take The Cat To The Vet
This step is very important as you want to ensure you are bringing back home a healthy pet. Most strays come with excess baggage in the forms of diseases, infections or other health issues. If you have pets at home, you don’t want to let your other pets catch some of the nasty stuff. However, please do not be put off by this. A quick visit to the vet will give you a clearer picture of the health status of the cat. You will also need to get the cat all necessary vaccinations. Once it has been certified to have no major health issues, you can bring it home right away.

Get Ready To Bring The Cat Home
If you have existing cats at home, most likely you will already have all the necessary stuff to keep another pet. If not, prepare all the essential supplies such as different types of food (both dry and wet), litter box, cat litter, water bowl and a blanket. A blanket will be good for your new pet to sleep on. Then, you are ready to induce the cat home.

Isolate The Cat
In some cases whereby the cat has already followed you home, you should isolate it if you have pets at home. Otherwise, isolation will also be good for your new pet to slowly integrate into your household. Prepare a room which is quiet to let the cat get used to its new surroundings. If you have other pets at home, do not let them meet at first. One good tip is to use a sock or towel to pet the cat and then use the same sock and towel to pat the other pets and vice versa so as to get them to get used to each other scent.

Bonding Time
While your new pet is in isolation, start bonding with it by petting and playing games. Most cats are naturally active and playful and using toys will be a good way to become fast friends with them. This is also important to the mental and physical well being of the cat. Quality playtime also helps to reduce behavior problems. Once you have a bond with it, you will find it easier to move on to training it.

Introduction To Your Household
After a few days of isolation, it is time to integrate your new pet to the household and its new surrounds. The first couple of weeks is very important as you can have a fairly good gauge how well your new pet is coping indoor. If you have kids at home, you must let them know not to be too boisterous or rough with the new pet or it will start to isolate itself. If you have other pets and if you have let them get used to each other scent previously, most likely you will not have any major issues. However, you still need to monitor the situation carefully.

Training Time
Stray or feral cats ease themselves all over the place in the wild. When you first started to get the cat indoors, you may face inappropriate elimination problems with your new pet. This is unavoidable unless your new pet has been trained before by its previous owners, if it has any. Otherwise, litter box training and other types of behavior training may be required. Prepare treats and snacks and use positive training methods to guide your new pet to correct its behavior issues. You need to have a lot of patience and time to work things out if your new pet proves to be a stubborn cat.

As you can see, adopting a stray cat while quite similar to adopting a normal cat is also different in a number of ways. You need patience and time to integrate a start back to a domesticated life. However, there will be times whereby you have to let your new pet go if it really cannot adapt to its new surroundings. There are also cases whereby the cat runs off and disappear back to the streets. This is why a lot of people prefer to adopt from conventional places rather than picking up strays or feral cats as pets. Though, an adopted  stray cat can still be an outstanding if not better pet option.

Image Credit
Photo by Ingrid Taylar - CC BY 2.0

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