The stray cat population in the UK is at crisis point. In 2018 RSPCA Officers rescued more than 22,000 unwanted cats.
It can be difficult to differentiate a stray cat from a cat with a home. Cats are independent creatures so it’s normal to see them roaming your area. Most cat owners will have a cat flap so they can literally go in and out as they please.
However, if you have cat who is always in your garden and you’ve seen them out on the street throughout the day, here’re 5 steps you can take to help…
You have different types of stray cats, some cats may have had a home before they became a stray while others will be feral. A feral cat wont really approach you and may also hiss if you try.
If the cat you have found looks injured or sick, approach them with caution. They are likely to be wary of you and could be aggressive if they are scared. Use a blanket before picking them up in case they get their claws out. Call the RSPCA who will come and collect the cat.
If you can’t bring the cat into your home then create a shelter in your garden. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, a simple plastic storage box lined with a blanket will keep the stray cat warm.
If the cat is making a regular appearance in your garden give them food and fresh water. A can of tuna in the first instance is a good idea (unless you already have cat food at home.) Then next time you pop to the shops get some wet and dry cat food. Cats aren’t usually greedy and only eat when they’re hungry. So a cat who gobbles up any food you give them is an indication they have no home.
Ask around your neighbourhood to find out if your new visitor has a home. Create a lost cat flyer with a photo and stick it around your area. It’s also worth posting on social media to find out if anyone in your area has lost a cat.
Take the stray to your nearest vets or Cats Protection branch. They can scan the cat to see if they have a microchip, which will have the details of the owner.
If you have gone through the above steps and no owner has come forward you can keep the cat if you want to. Make sure you are able to look after the cat, pay for any veterinary treatments if they need it and for their food and wellbeing. Getting the cat microchipped is also a good idea and a collar with your details on it too.
Most importantly, if you are keeping the stray cat please get them neutered/spayed ASAP. The last thing you want is the cat getting pregnant – and they can get pregnant multiple times a year! Even if the cat you’re taking in is a boy, do the responsible thing and get him neutered.
There are already so many unwanted cats wandering the streets, becoming feral because they’ve had no human contact. With nowhere warm to sleep, no proper food and no love, this isn’t the quality of life a cat or any animal should have to endure. So if you plan on keeping a stray cat make sure neutering/spaying them is on the top of your list.
If keeping the cat isn’t a option for you then contact your nearest Cats Protection branch who can rehome the cat.