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 to help them?
How to Catch a Stray Cat
If you see a stray cat in your neighborhood, you can catch it humanely using a Havahart or box trap. You can purchase one yourself, but these can often be borrowed from local vets and shelters. Once you have the live trap and are prepared to catch the cat, line the bottom of the trap with newspaper and bait it with food. Take the trap to an area where you usually see the cat and set it. Keep an eye on the trap from a distance and check it frequently. Since cats are nocturnal hunters and feeders, trapping at night may be more successful.
What to Do with a Stray Cat
Before you attempt to trap the cat, 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.
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.
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 or spay the cats for a reduced fee.
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.
Image: Victor Bezrukov / via Flickr