How to Help Outside Feral/Stray Cats

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Do you have any homeless cats in your area? Winter is coming and I worry for all the cats on the street. I’m going to tell you the steps I’ve taken to try to help them out.

I bet you have seen it. A new cat in the area, roaming around house to house, looking for food or attention. Or even the feral colony growing, seeing new kittens every year. I want to share one of my favorite quotes with you.

“Saving one cat will not save the world, but for that one cat, the world will change forever.”

-Author Unknown

This quote is so true. You can change the lives of not only cats, but all animals by doing something small out of your day. For example, do you know that plastic that wraps around drink bottles? Instead of throwing it away immediately, I make sure to cut it up in small pieces so wildlife doesn’t get caught in it. If every single person on this Earth did one nice thing a day for the environment, it would be approximately 7 billion good deeds a day!

Here’s What You Can Do to Help The Cats in Your Area

#1. Know the difference between stray and feral.

Stray cats are socialized to people. These cats will get close & sometimes let you pet them. These are cats who got lost, dropped off, lives as an outside/barn cat, or had human contact at a young age.

Feral cats are not socialized to people. When you get close, they run. They are products of kittens who were born outside with no human contact.

You should never take a feral cat to a cat shelter. These cats will not make good pets because they do not trust people. This will result in them being aggressive or “unlikable” to the people looking to adopt in the shelter, resulting in not finding a home. Being locked in a small shelter is extremely stressful for a feral cat. To them, it is like they got abducted by aliens.

#2. Check for Missing Pet Posters and Online

Approximately 10 million pets go missing each year. If you notice a cat in your area, check posters or social media. There are specific groups on Facebook for lost pets in your area. It is a good idea to search for similar looking cats on these pages and contacting the person who posted it.

If none look similar, try posting a photo of the cat and ask if it belongs to anyone. If it is a friendly cat and if you get no responses, take it to the vet to check for a microchip. If the previous owner had one installed, you can reunite them. It is also a good idea to check with your neighbors. It could be their outdoor cat that they care for.

3. Trap Neuter Release (TNR)

Trap neuter release is exactly how it sounds. You use a live trap to trap the cat (no trap needed if it’s friendly), take it to a clinic that neuters/spays (get them fixed), then release it where you originally trapped it.

Some clinics offer lower pricing for TNR. This helps keep the outdoor cat population low. Search up “TNR programs in my area” and it should show you local clinics that help. You can even ask your vet if they know any cheap places to TNR. Usually, these clinics clip the cats ear after they fix them. This is an easy way to tell which cats in the colony have been fixed.

One female cat can have up to 180 kittens in her lifetime if it she not fixed. This is terrible for the environment (food chain) & will give these cats a hard life. Some neighbors will not like this. There are stories of terrible people hurting cat colonies in areas. You don’t want to let it get to that point. Try and prevent the overpopulation now while you still can. Outside life can be very hard for cats.

3. Provide Food

This is controversial. Some people get angry at people who feed the community cats. They want natural selection to take care of the ones who can’t help themselves.

I have to help any animal in need. Someone dropped off a cat in my area and he was skin and bones. It was so sad. He would greet me anytime I walked out the door and he would even watch us through our windows from the outside.

It started snowing one day and he was crying and soaking wet. I couldn’t help but bring him inside. He now has a forever home with me.

If you decide to feed outdoor cats, make sure to do it in the morning so they can get a chance to eat it the whole day. Make sure if there are any leftovers, you bring it inside or throw it away before nightfall. This can bring unwanted predators and pests in the area. If you have no water source or stream near you, you may want to consider putting out a water bowl as well.

Provide Shelter

You can either build your own shelter, or buy one. I just bought one because it was easier. This is the cat shelter that I bought.

This is a very great shelter if you have one cat in your area you want to take care of. Make sure whatever shelter you get has 2 exits. If a predator comes, this lets the cat escape and makes it so the cat isn’t cornered. If you have more cats, you may want to get a larger cat house or a couple individual ones if they don’t get along. I have this placed by the outdoor electrical outlets on the exterior of my house. I included a little heating mat as well.

I turn on the heating pad when the temperatures are at around 35 degrees and colder.

I am also prepared for the negative degree weather that occasionally comes here in Ohio. I bought a chicken heater for these really cold days.

Always make sure you feel how warm it is at different times of the day. A little heat from this goes a long way. You do not want to bake them. You can adjust the heat with a knob. We just mounted this on the inside of the cat box that I linked above. You will have to screw into the box in order to mount it. I even bought a little thermometer to check the heat from the inside.

Not sure if they are using your cat house?

It can take a while for a cat to use a cat house you set up. They need to feel comfortable and safe. They may even only use it in the winter months. Make sure you place the cat house in a safe place that will not get snowed in.

I wasn’t sure if my cat was using the box, so I temporarily put food inside just to let him know it was safe. Do not leave food in the house because it will lead predators right to your cats house, making it unsafe. I also put a night vision camera inside. This showed me every time the cats used the box, and I could check on them from my phone anywhere at any time.

You Will be Making the World a Better Place

If you found this article, you are a good person. You are someone who cares about the lives of animals and want to help out. I hope this article helps you take care of the kitties in your neighborhood.

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