What to do with stray cats?

Trap, Neuter And Return

Stray cats can be a problem for the whole community, especially if they're not spayed or neutered. Learn some ways to help the cause and keep them off the street.

Feral Cats

The sad truth

Unfortunately, unwanted animals are a part of our society. They are the kittens that were dumped because they grew up, started being inconvenient and stopped being cute; and the cats that were too expensive (difficult, annoying, problematic) to move when their owners did and were, therefore, abandoned. Because many of these cats and kittens are not spayed or neutered, feral cat colonies have exploded.

These feral cats are a part of every community. And the more they breed, the bigger the problem becomes. Many of the strays are not suitable as housecats, either. So what can you do?

Contact a no-kill shelter

You could take them to the pound. But you should be aware they kill a vast number of animals every year, so you may be signing the cat's death warrant.

Instead, try to contact a no-kill shelter and find out about trap, neuter, return (TNR) programs in your area. While the TNR do not find homes for the cats, they neuter or spay the cats (clipping one of their ears to make them easily identifiable for people) and return them to where they were found. This will not only stop them from producing more unwanted cats, but can also reduce their need to mark a territory or fight -- giving them longer, healthier lives.

Bring them to a humane society

Most states also have humane societies. They are dedicated to handle situations just like this, and will have a website that can provide tips for bringing in a stray cat to the proper authorities. Some may even have suggestions on how to best integrate a homeless cat into your life.

Try a local veterinarian

What if you would like to bring a local stray to the veterinarian? There are safe and humane ways to trap a feral cat, and the best way is to get a special cage. Research the organizations in your area that practice TNR; they will often let you borrow one of their traps. These places, however, run on donations and usually operate beyond their means, so be generous. These organizations will also have vets who will neuter the cats for a reduced fee.

Adopt a cat or two

Now, if you would like to adopt a cat from the streets, be aware that feral cats do not make for friendly house pets. These chances do improve if it is a kitten or a young cat.

You don't have to feel bad feeding stray cats in your area. But make sure you help and have them fixed, as it will help stop the cat colony from growing further and give the strays a happier, healthier life.

More on cat care

How much should a cat eat? You'll be surprised

What is a healthy weight for my cat?

10 Ways to show your cat that you love her



Comments on "What to do with stray cats?"

Ellie September 01, 2012 | 12:17 PM

My family has problem. And I'm reaching out for help and/or advice. We are currently caring for 6 cats, 3 of which are indoor and tame. The other 3 are feral - although we can pet them since we've been feeding them for years and they trust us. Although they are friendly to us, they're still feral, and will never be housepets/tame. The big issue: my family wants to move into town (Vancouver), where the number of cats you can legally have at your house is reduced to four. This means we'd have our 3 tame cats, and we would contain one of the feral cats (the friendliest) in our backyard. As for the other two... We've been caring for these cats for many years and have formed emotional attachments. There's no way we can up-and-leave and just leave these 2 cats behind. We fear that if the SPCA did take them, they would likely be euthanized after a short holding period. We've also looked into having them sent to farms where they can help & survive by hunting mice, but no one will take them. Even if we could bring them with us into town, we're downsizing from our acre of land and won't have enough room to house these outdoor cats. What can we do with these two cats? They are friendly enough to be petted by the right people, but they will never be tame. They've grown dependent on my family because we've fed them for years. Leaving them behind is not an option, but the pressure to move into town is growing. This is a unique situation and we are at a loss of what to do. If you have any advice/information on what we could possibly do, it would be greatly appreciated. All of our cats are spayed/neutered.

Maggie Mae October 28, 2011 | 2:42 PM

Feral cats have always been in my neighborhood. I have had mother cats bring their kittens to our house for me to feed. I have had several fixed when I can catch them. I have 4 indoor cats....2 male,neutered ferals who look like ragdoll breed...a siamese we picked up in a store parking lot as a 6 week old kitten and another female that we picked up off the highway when a kitten.. the ferals are great walks on a leash with a cat harness on him "Digger". I have a mother cat and 2 kittens now in little dog houses with heaters on our porch...we got one of the kittens when very young, it was ill, took to the vet, got medicine and she is doing good....I will take her to be fixed when she is old enough. It's very difficult to catch/trap them...the ones I encounter are too smart to get into a cage even for food...smartest cats I have ever seen!...and, the best mothers...they will protect those kittens to the end.....2 non feral cats were dropped....pumpkin striped and we call them Morris and can tell they were once housecats. My neighbor and I provide shelter and food for them both and, the story goes on and on...people drop pets all the time and it is so sad.....anyone who can help these animals in any way will find a real place in heaven I am sure....

linda September 06, 2011 | 6:39 AM

i live in a small town in kentucky i have a lot of stray cats and kittens running around . i feed them and do not let them starve to death i actually have fixed warm places for them to sleep cats are living creatures just like dogs and other animals i feed them also. but the cats and the kittens are my number one priority because there are so many of them. you cant let the local animal shelter have them because they put them to sleep so ill continue to take care of the little fellows as long as i can.

marie July 26, 2011 | 8:14 PM

there are three familys of feral cats they have had three differnt sets of kittens. they are all well.several people feed can i get help to get them all fixed. they are some what usto people. my heart breaks for these cats. who can i go to.marie in mass.

janesays June 29, 2011 | 1:00 PM

I for one disagree. Having been in a neighborhood with a feral colony, I can tell you that they way they live, especially in areas with harsh winters, is inhumane. If people don't feed them (most of our neighbors wouldn't) they are gaunt and starving. They get killed by cars and dogs. Diseases run rampant. They are better off euthanized peacefully than left to live on the streets, freezing and starving.

Delberta Clark June 25, 2011 | 1:47 PM

we live in a hud apartment we have stray cat about 5 weeks ago there were five new kittens born there are aleast five or six older cats I guess some are fixed I am trying to get information on how to help. delberta

karen February 02, 2011 | 7:00 PM

Excellent, compassionate and vital information that is valuable to many people unaware that there are so many abandoned, feral kitties living in their community. I volunteer at a no kill shelter that is over run with abandoned cats hoping for a loving home and I also work closely with a TNR charity that works effortless to try and contain the feral cats into a colony with shelter & a caretaker to feed them. If you see cats outside chances are they are abandoned or feral and you can help by contacting your local animal welfare group for more info on TNR. Together we could all help by getting this strays on the streets into a home or at least into a safe colony. Thank you, Vladimir Negron for your great report!!!

Candace October 25, 2010 | 5:07 PM

Feral cats can be domesticated just like any other cat. And so can older feral cats. I have 3 cats indoors with my husband and 2 of them I caught to TNR when they were little and ended up keeping. They are great pets to have. Very loving and easy to train. The trick is to keep them in the bathroom or one room for about 15 - 20 days with litter box and bring them their food daily so that they become dependent on the owner and you have to play with them a great deal to bond with them. This also helps them gain trust in you because ferals are not used to people as much as a cat from a litter with a breeder. My first feral climbed my grasscloth wallpaper in my powder room and his up in the corner...he was terrified of us. But it takes diligence, and patience and then you will have a family worthy pet. You need to get them to the point where they are eating out of your hand and are starting to like to be held, pet. Obviously giving them treats after doing so helps. Tom cats don't make a good house pet because they are used to spraying and marking their territory in the wild and will continue to do so in your home. If you catch a young male cat early before they are mating, you can have a great cat if you fix them right away. They won't spray if you cat them early . Female Ferals tend to be aggressive with male cats and want to be the only pet in the house typically. They hog attention. Females are usually okay though with other females if they are around the same age.

racheal April 22, 2010 | 10:09 PM

awsome. cool for cats!!!

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