Ask many Americans how they found their beloved pet cat, and often you'll hear the familiar reply - "Our cat found us!" By some accounts, nearly half of all cat owners have gained their feline family members in this very way. Taking in a stray cat is a gesture of compassion that rewards you with a pet's loving devotion. Additionally, there is no more humane way for us to reduce the feral cat population; many stray cats haven't been spayed or neutered. Before adopting a stray cat, however, you should determine the status of the stray to make sure you aren't inadvertently adopting a pet who already has a family.
- First contact. Your friendship with the wary, yet curious stray cat begins with food (surprise, surprise). The urge to provide food already exists in all pet-lovers anyway, and demonstrates your benign consideration to the stray cat.
- Shelter. Once the stray cat is hanging around your house for food, gradually get her used to being around the food when you are there, too. Gradually begin to pet her when you offer food. Spend a little more time with her each time you feed her. Eventually, you'll notice that she wants to follow you into your house. The stray cat might hesitate at the threshold or enter a few steps into your home before scurrying out. The acclimating process is gradual for some cats and immediately comfortable for others. When your stray cat has fully accepted your home as her home, you'll know by the air of relative nonchalance that contrasts so strikingly with her past timidity. Ah, the many faces of a cat!
- Veterinary exam. It is important that you schedule a veterinary appointment for your new pet; many stray cats carry different parasites like ear mites and fleas, but sometimes they also harbor more serious illnesses. For the wellbeing of all involved (you, the cat and the rest of your family - both two-legged and four-legged), visit the vet. You may find it very difficult to get your new cat into a carrier, but you must.
- Spaying, neutering and vaccination. Once your stray cat has become a member of your household and you have paid a visit to the vet, you must visit a clinic for spaying, neutering and vaccination. Should the cat remain an indoor/outdoor cat, it is vital that you spay or neuter the cat. Contact your local Humane Society to connect with local clinics that spay, neuter and vaccinate stray cats.
Now that you are assured of your new pet's health and sterility, you can cater to his every whim! Consult other HowToDoThings articles for more information about proper nutrition and care for your feline friend. Awaiting you are the countless joys of owning a cat.