Stray Cat Questions

Stray cat

Stray Cat Questions from Visitors

Should Visitor Take in Stray

There is a stray cat in my neighborhood that I would love to take in. The problem is that I already have a cat, and anytime he sees the other cat in the backyard he becomes very aggressive, hissing and screaming. The stray cat is also a male, which makes me think that the two would never get along. The stray cat is very affectionate towards me, and follows me around the yard when I am out there. If I were to take in the stray, how would I get the two cats to get along? If they were to get in a fight, how would I stop it?

~~Samantha

Expert Reply

Hi Samantha,

I'm really glad you came to the site and asked this question. I have talked to so many well-meaning people who take a stray in only to infect their other cat(s) with diseases such as Cat Flu.

Before you take this cat into your home, you would need to catch him and take him to your veterinarian. While he is there, I would get his shots updated and have him tested for diseases common to stray cats. He may also need to be neutered.

If the vet gives him the green light on health, then you'll want to follow the steps below to introduce him into your home:

  1. Confine the new cat to a separate room with food, water, and a litter box. Go into the room to pet him and begin the bonding process, but do not let him leave the room for one week. This will allow your other cat time to get used to his scent and presence, and will also reinforce to the stray where the litter box is located.
  2. After a week, place the new cat into a cage or crate and bring the cage into the main living area of your home. The main area is where you spend the most time. Leave the cat inside the cage for one hour, allowing the other cat to sniff the cage.
  3. After one hour, open the door of the cage and allow the new cat to come out into the room. Watch your current cat's reaction closely. If the two begin to fight, immediately put the new cat back into the cage. Wait another hour and repeat.

This process sometimes allows the cats to tolerate one another within a few hours, and sometimes it takes weeks. Try to be as patient as possible and don't try for more than three hours at a time. Just return the new cat to his confined space if the two cats were not able to get along that day.

I hope this helps! Good luck!

~~Lori

Tips for Bringing Feral Cat Inside

My husband and I have decided to bring a stray into our home after about three months of feeding him. At first, we thought he was feral because he was scrawny, had a runny eye and would run any time he saw us. However, after slow steps of socializing him, he waits for us to come outside. He rubs our legs in greeting and even offers his belly to pet, although he occasionally snaps or scratches. He usually goes right back to being sweet so we figure he was once someone's pet. We are taking him to the vet for neutering, shots, tests, and treatment this weekend. Any ideas about how to get him used to the inside life?. We have other kitties so we plan to keep him in his own room until we get his test results.

~~Mriamria

Expert Reply

Hi, Mriamria,

First of all, it is possible to tame a feral cat if you feed him and slowly socialize him, so he may or may not have once been someone else's cat. However, it does sound like he's had some exposure to humans. Strays and ferals do require a lot of time and patience to tame, but they often turn out to be wonderful companions.

You are smart to keep him separated from the other kitties until you get the test results back because stray cats can sometimes have highly contagious diseases that will make your other felines ill. Be sure he has his own food dishes, bedding and litter box as well.

Remember that cats sometimes show affection through love bites, so what seems like snapping to you may just be his way of showing affection. Simply tell him no and stop petting for a few minutes when he does this. He should eventually get the message. As you get to know your cat better, you will learn when he is getting excited and know when to stop petting for a moment. I have a Siamese who purrs loudly and squints her eyes. When she does this, you'd better watch out because the love bites are coming, and they hurt!

Placing a feral or even a stray cat in your home can be traumatic for the cat, so expect his behavior to regress for a few days or even a few weeks as he figures out what is socially acceptable in your home. The cat may even hide from you, and you may have to teach him to use a litter box if he has not had exposure to one before. Probably the most important thing you can do is spend as much time as you can with the cat so he will begin to trust you. At first, just try to be in the same room as he grows comfortable in your home. Give him treats and eventually let him begin roaming about the house. If he tries to run outside or run away, you may have to begin the process again by enclosing him in a small space and slowly introducing him to the rest of your home.

This sounds like a very lucky cat to have met you and your husband. I hope these tips help you all become very happy together.

~~Lori

Stray Cat Dilemma

I have been feeding a rough looking male cat for about six months. He has a regular routine and route in the neighborhood. He arrives for a few minutes each morning and afternoon for an easy meal at my house. He is easily spooked, but will let me pet his head. I live in a safe neighborhood that requires all dogs to be on a leash or fenced. In a month I will be moving out to the country.

My dilemma is this: should I take him to a more dangerous setting, or leave him here where he is safe? I already have three indoor cats and really don't need another. I don't want to leave him and have him go hungry, but I also don't want to move him and have him killed, or just disappear. I would appreciate some advice.

~~Frannie48

Expert Reply

Hi Frannie,

For what it's worth, here's my advice.

You've got yourself into a bit of a pickle. On the legal side, some municipalities consider people who feed stray cats the default owners of those cats, and responsible for their care and licensing where applicable. By leaving this stray behind that has come to depend on you for his meals, you run the risk of being charged with neglect if one of the neighbors happens to call the Humane Society after you're gone.

You and this cat have built a relationship of sorts. You might just be the only person who has ever shown him kindness, and he has rewarded you for that by allowing you to touch his head, something a lot of cats simply won't stand for. It's his "big gesture" to you, and a sign that further trust can be built.

I realize that having three cats is already a big responsibility, but you're halfway there with this poor stray now. Please consider not only taking him with you, but having him neutered and giving him a real home with the rest of your feline family. No stray cat is ever safe as long as he's still on the streets.

I hope your story has a happy ending.

~~Kelly

Stray Cat Missing Fur

I feed some stray cats and I've noticed one has missing fur and sores on the top of its tail. I was wondering what this might be, and if there was something I could do for it? Thank you~~ Liz

Expert Reply

Hi Liz,

You certainly sound like a kind-hearted person. There are simply far too many strays wandering around with no one to care for them.

Stray cats are prone to all sorts of skin problems and other illnesses and injuries. The missing fur and sores you've observed could be caused by anything from a flea infestation to fighting with other feral cats.

If you find it possible, the best thing you could do for this cat would be to take it to a vet for diagnosis and treatment, but I realize this might be difficult for many reasons.

  • First, this cat may not trust humans; this would make it difficult to get your hands on it.
  • Second, veterinary care is expensive, and unless you intend to keep the cat afterward it will likely develop the same problems all over again.
  • Third, even if you try to supply the care this poor animal needs, and transfer it to a shelter, you may find the shelters in your area are already full.

You could call the animal control authorities in your municipality to report the situation, but be aware that since you are feeding these cats, they may consider them yours and hold you liable for the situation. I know that doesn't sound fair, but that's the way the law works in some areas.

I'm sorry I don't have an easier solution, but then that's why it's so important to address the problem of pet overpopulation.

Thanks for your question and your compassion.

~~ Kelly

Questions About a Stray Siamese

Hi there,As I walked into our church building three Sundays ago, I heard a gentle meowing. It was a brown cat that I later learned from web searching was a Siamese seal point. I brought her home because I felt guilty about leaving her outside the building by herself. I first asked other folks in our church if they lost a cat, but nobody responded.

We don't have pets in our house, but when I brought her home, things changed and my kids wanted to adopt her. She's been with us for three weeks now and behaves exactly as you described a Siamese cat does. New to cat care, I need help on these questions:

  1. Is there a way to estimate, how old "Coco" is?
  2. How can I know the cat is pure Siamese?
  3. When I got her, her right lower eyelid was inflamed and was producing tears. I took her to a local vet who prescribed an antibiotic ointment to be applied two to three times a day. The first few days, our cat didn't mind me applying the ointment. Later in the week, she started avoiding me, and I had to sort of force her to receive the treatment. Her eyelid is getting better, but it's still a little inflamed. I haven't gone back to show her to the vet.

I'd appreciate your advice very much, and thanks!

~~ Fernando

Expert Reply

Hi Fernando,

That was a lovely thing you did taking in that stray cat and giving her the care she needs. It will be difficult to discern her exact age, but when you take her in for a follow up on her eye infection, ask your vet to give you his/her opinion. The vet can look at her teeth, coat color, body size and condition, and come up with an educated opinion.

As for the purity of your cat's breed, I think an experienced breeder could look at your cat and tell you with a degree of certainty whether or not it is a full Siamese. There are currently two distinct types in the breed: the traditional Siamese that is rather cobby like an ordinary Tabby, and the show type that is more elongated, and has a wedge-shaped head.

Now for the eye infection. As I said earlier, do take her to the vet for a follow up, but continue administering the medication according to the vet's directions, even though it has been difficult. If you let up, the medication may be less effective when you resume, and she may need a new medication to finish clearing away the infection.

Best wishes to you and your family~~ Kelly

Stray Cat Questions