How to approach a stray cat

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What is a community cat?

Community cats, also called feral cats, are unowned cats who live outdoors. Like indoor cats, they belong to the domestic cat species (felis catus). However, community cats are generally not socialized, or friendly, to people, and are therefore unadoptable. They live full, healthy lives with their feline families, called colonies, in their outdoor homes.

Cats living outdoors is nothing new. It wasn’t until kitty litter was invented in the late 1940s that some cats began living strictly indoors. But community cats truly thrive in their outdoor homes. The tips in this brochure will help you coexist with community cats.

Why do I see community cats in my neighborhood?

Community cats live outdoors. Like all animals, community cats settle where food and shelter are available, and they are naturally skilled at finding these on their own.

Because they are unsocialized, community cats can’t live indoors with people, and are therefore unadoptable. Community cats should not be taken to animal shelters—nationwide, virtually 100 percent of community cats taken to shelters are killed there. Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) is the humane, effective, and mainstream approach to addressing community cat populations.

What is Trap-Neuter-Return?

In a TNR program, community cats are humanely trapped, brought to a veterinarian to be spayed or neutered, vaccinated, eartipped (the universal sign that a cat is part of a TNR program), and then returned to their outdoor homes. Kittens less than 8 weeks old can be socialized and then adopted. Adult cats who are socialized can be adopted, but they can also be returned outdoors, where they will continue to thrive.

TNR improves cats’ lives and provides an effective, humane, and collaborative way for communities to coexist with cats. To learn more, including how to conduct TNR, visit alleycat.org/TNR.

What does the Vacuum Effect have to do with TNR?

The Vacuum Effect has been documented worldwide in many species, including community cats. Animal control’s typical approach has been to catch and kill community cats. While this may temporarily reduce the number of community cats in a given area, it is ultimately counterproductive, as the population of cats rebounds. Other cats move into the newly available territory and continue to breed—this phenomenon is called the Vacuum Effect. It’s why catch and kill doesn’t work. TNR is the only effective and humane approach to address community cat populations. Learn more at alleycat.org/VacuumEffect.

What You Should Do If…

Cats are getting into your trash.

REASON: Cats are looking for food.

  • Secure your trash can with a tight lid or bungee cords. This will protect your trash from wildlife as well.
  • Find out if neighbors are feeding the cats. If they are, make sure they are following best practices. Learn more at alleycat.org/BestPractices.
  • Consider feeding the cats yourself if you find no regular caregiver. Feeding cats using best practices will help ensure they don’t get hungry enough to get into trash.

How to approach a stray cat

Feeding stations provide cats with a designated area to eat. Find tips for building or buying feeding stations at alleycat.org/FeedingStations.

Cats are digging in your garden.

REASON: It is a cat’s natural instinct to dig in soft or loose soil, moss, mulch, or sand.

Quick Tips:

  • Put out fragrances that keep cats away. Scatter fresh orange or lemon peels. Wet coffee grounds—which you may be able to get for free from coffee houses and fast food chains—and metal pans filled with vinegar also deter cats.
  • Make an outdoor litter box away from your garden by tilling the soil or placing sand in
    an out-of-the-way spot in your yard. Clean the area frequently.
  • Use plastic carpet runners, spike-side up, covered lightly in soil. They can be found at hardware or office supply stores. You can also set chicken wire firmly into the dirt (roll sharp edges under), arrange branches or sticks in a lattice pattern, or put wooden or plastic fencing over soil.
  • Get the Cat Scat Mat, a nonchemical cat deterrent consisting of plastic mats that are cut into smaller pieces and pressed into the soil (seen below). Each mat has flexible plastic spikes that are harmless to cats and other animals but discourage digging.

How to approach a stray cat

The Cat Scat Mat is a safe deterrent to use in your garden.

Cats are lounging in your yard or porch, or on your car.

REASON: Cats tend to remain close to their food source.

Quick Tips:

  • Shift the cats’ food source to a less central location, where you won’t mind if they hang out.
  • Apply fragrances that deter cats around the edges of your yard, the tops of fences, and on any favorite digging areas or plants. See “Cats are digging in your garden” for a list of cat-deterring fragrances.
  • Install an ultrasonic deterrent or a motion-activated sprinkler. You can find humane
    deterrent products at garden supply stores.
  • Use a car cover or place carpet runners on top of your car to avoid paw prints.

Cats are sleeping under your porch or in your shed.

REASON: The cats are looking for a dry, warm shelter away from the elements.

Quick Tips:

  • Provide covered shelter. Or, if the cats have a caregiver, ask the caregiver to provide covered shelter. Shelters should be placed in quiet areas away from traffic. Find tips to build or buy shelters atalleycat.org/ShelterGallery.
  • Block or seal the area where the cats enter with chicken wire or lattice, but only once you are absolutely certain no cats or kittens are inside.

Feeding cats attracts insects and wildlife.

REASON: Leaving food out for too long can attract other animals.

Quick Tips:

  • Feed the cats at the same time and location each day. They should be given only enough food to finish in one sitting. If another person is caring for the cats, ask them to follow these guidelines. For more colony care guidelines, visit alleycat.org/ColonyCare.
  • Keep the feeding area neat and free of leftover food and trash.

Cats are yowling, fighting, spraying, roaming, and having kittens.

REASON: These are mating behaviors. Once the cats are spayed or neutered, these behaviors will stop.

Quick Tips:

  • Conduct TNR for the cats. TNR stops mating behaviors and ensures no new kittens are born.
  • Find more information about TNR at alleycat.org/TNR. Get help from local community cat experts by requesting a list of Alley Cat Allies’ Feral Friends Network members in your area at alleycat.org/FindFeralFriends.

Please remember: Do not take community cats to animals shelters. They are feral—or unsocialized to people—and therefore unadoptable. This means virtually 100 percent of community cats taken to shelters are killed there. Instead, community cats should be neutered, vaccinated, and returned to their outdoor homes.

Taking care of your cat has so many aspects and one of the most crucial ones is treating your pet when it gets harmed, as well as when you find a stray injured cat.

So how to approach an injured cat? And how to help an injured stray cat? To succeed in the injured cat rescue mission you need to keep in mind that this cute little peaceful creature can be threatening with its mouth and it’s four sets of claws.

It’s natural that sometimes the injured cat gets scared — particularly when in his mind you were the reason he or she’s harmed— thus, you need to be extremely cautious when you tend to approach your pet.

It actually could be upsetting, and awful to be hurt by the scared kitty you were just trying to help.

So here are some steps to show you how to approach an injured cat:

Step N°1: Found injured cat, what to do? Well first kindly get near the injured cat and use a reassuring tone when talking to the pet.
Step N°2: do not touch the cat when coming next to him or her.
Step N°3: bend down to the pet. Keep speaking while you analyze his body language and eyes movements.

  • If the injured cat has his eyes wide open, ears directed to the back, giving you the hissing sound and keeps growling, do not try to pet it.
  • If the pet is cringing and trembling try to pet it to comfort and reassure it, first rub him behind the head. If the injured cat allowed this move, rub the rest of the head and the neck. Scratch the ears and stroke under the chin is make cats feel good and safe.

How to approach a stray cat

If you happen to find yourself in a situation where you notice a cat that seems to have wandered from its home, you might be wondering what to do if you find a stray cat. If you’re interested in helping the poor missing animal, here are the steps you can take to ensure its safety without causing harm to yourself.

Stray or Feral?

This is a crucial first step because there is a significant difference between a stray and a feral cat. Feral cats have fended for themselves from the day they were born and aren’t likely to adapt well to domesticated life. Stray cats, on the other hand, are domesticated pets who may have gotten lost or stolen. Feral cats are usually wary of people and have little to no experience socializing while stray cats aren’t averse to human contact and even depend on people for care and provision.

If the cat has identification tags, this almost definitely means that it’s domesticated, and has an owner searching for him somewhere. In terms of appearance, a pet cat may start to look like a feral cat after being away from home for some time.

Observe instead how the cat behaves. Does he meow back when you try to talk to him? Does he approach if you offer food? Does he appear to behave like a house cat? If the cat does any of these things, he’s most likely a stray and you can proceed to take the next steps to helping him.

But what to do if you find a feral cat? The best way is to inquire about how to be a caretaker of a feral cat colony that you might have spotted or support your local government’s neutering programs.

Capturing a Stray Cat

What should you do if you find a stray cat? Your primary concern would of course be his safety–and yours. You can’t predict how a lost animal will behave so remember to approach with caution. If you’re driving when you see the stray, park on the safe side of the road and try to capture the stray cat by luring him into your car, preferably with strong-smelling food.

Avoid making sudden movements and speak in calm, reassuring tones as you make your approach. It’s better if you can find anything to confine him such as a carrier, a leash, a rope, or any piece of cloth to keep him in a safe area. If the animal looks aggressive, you may seek the help of animal rescue in capturing him. Also, check If the pet has microchip. That way you can extract contact information

How to approach a stray cat

Providing Immediate Care

Once you’ve successfully rescued and transported the stray cat home, providing him with food and necessary medical attention should be your next concern. Seeing the vet is especially important if you need to know what to do if you find a pregnant stray cat. At home, safety precautions should of course be exercised. Keep him in a comfortable, confined space away from people or other pets, as you don’t know what diseases or parasites the stray could be carrying.

With regard to feeding a stray cat , make sure to do it in moderation. He may be suffering from starvation and eating and drinking too much at once could make him sick. You can offer him commercial cat food or, if you don’t have any available, you can serve him cooked beef, fish, or chicken meat, boiled eggs, or organ meat. Spices like onion and garlic are toxic to felines so avoid adding these ingredients.

If you can’t accommodate the stray cats in your own home, you can contact the animal shelter where he could be given the care he needs as he waits to be adopted. Familiarize yourself with the shelter’s rules on how long they can hold a stray cat. Shelters would typically allow it if you ask them if you yourself can care for the cat while the search for the owner is underway.

How to approach a stray cat


Looking for the Stray Cats Owner

Now that the stray cat is officially in your care, trying to locate the owners is the next step on what to do when you find a stray cat. There are many ways to go about this, starting with reporting your found cat to PawMaw.com and calling up animal shelters, vet hospitals, and the local animal rescue authorities to inform them of the cat you found. Post a listing on every lost and found site that allows you to do for free. Make sure to upload a description and a clear photo of the cat.

Putting up flyers is also one of the most effective ways if you’re wondering what do you do if you find a stray cat. Many owners who have lost their pets are immediately contacted by concerned citizens who may have spotted a lost pet with a matching description. Make sure to provide updated contact details on where callers can reach you.

Finding Him a New Home

If you’re considering keeping the stray cat as your own, you’d have to check state law provisions on what do you do when you find a stray cat and are interested in adopting him. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) can be a good resource for this kind of information. If you have the capacity to adopt a stray cat , you’ll be stopping a whole generation of strays and it’s clearly a noble thing to do.

However, some states would require a certain holding period before an animal is eligible for adoption. During the waiting period, you’d also be required to make all efforts necessary to find the owner. If the cat isn’t claimed by anyone, you can coordinate with the local shelter throughout the process of adoption.

How to approach a stray cat

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By Hand or Snare Pole
If the cats are small in size you can catch them by your hands and place them in cat carriers. You can wear thick leather gloves, or use a snare pole. Snare poles are the best, especially when you are dealing with an adult stray cat, or cats who like to perch themselves on a high place.

Watch the cat for its behavior. If it behaves normally you can approach the cat slowly. Do not run as you may frighten the cat and it may run away. Remember cats can hear a wide range of frequencies. You can hold the cat by its neck. Remember to wear a full sleeve to protect you from being scratched. If you are scared or the cat is big you can use a pillow cover. This will also help prevent the cat scratching your hands. When you have approached the cat you can put the pillow cover over the cat. A tip here is first try to cover the head so that the cat becomes like blindfolded. Now you can push the body inside the pillow cover easily. It is also safe as the cat cannot scratch you as it is inside the pillow cover.

With a Cage Trap
A raccoon sized cage trap, usually 10x12x32 inches is best. Make sure the trap is set flush to the ground and that it doesn’t wobble or rattle. In fact, a soft cage bottom, with cardboard, newspaper, leaves, or a piece of carpeting, is good. Set cat food in the back of the trap, and the pan sensitivity on light.

You can try to feed the stray cat and befriend it. Usually stray cats are hungry. So if you feed them with what they love like moist smelly soft food they are sure to come and eat. You can catch hold of them when they come to feed. You can also put some food for the stray cat regularly. The cat gets used to this and will start visiting and settle with you without any fuss. But give it sometime and be patient for the cat to get used to your feed. You can also put some food in a dish and hold it to him with your arm. Just try to get hold of him, but if he retreats do not chase him but continue to feed him. Try to make him come back more often by feeding him two or three times in a day. Once he starts coming regularly you have caught one cat successfully.

If you failed in all these attempts then you can put some food in a humane trap and keep in a place where the cat can easily see it. Once the cat enters the trap it gets caught and trapped. Do not use a trap that is too small as it can hurt the tail of the cat when the trap closes. These no-kill traps can be borrowed or purchased from pet stores or animal shelters.

Cats develop affection towards their owners. But remember cat bites are infectious. Before keeping a stray animal at home it is better to visit a vet for a checkup and follow his recommendations.

In addition to the below general information about stray cats, I’ve also written these helpful articles. Read the Top 10 Most Common Problems Caused By Stray Cats and find out how many Stray Cats are in the United States. Learn if you should ever Feed a Stray Cat, how to Adopt a Stray Cat, and even what you should do if you Find a Litter of Kittens.

You’re here to learn How to Catch a Stray Cat With Or Without a Trap with kittens. This site is intended to provide stray cat education and information, so that you can make an informed decision if you need to deal with a stray cat problem. Before catching a cat let us know some benefits of having a ‘Cat’ as a pet: Cats come next on the list of pets after dogs. They can be easily kept and are a good companion to humans. Cats are admired by humans for the fondness these animals show towards the cat owners. Cat owners do not generally suffer from feelings of depression, anxiety and loneliness. The psychological of the owners improves as these animals give companionship and friendship. There are studies that show that cat owner is associated with a reduced risk of heart attacks and strokes. Now how does one go about in catching a stray cat? Read more about how to get rid of stray cats. This site provides many stray cat control articles and strategies, if you wish to attempt to solve the problem yourself. If you are unable to do so, which is likely with many cases of stray cat removal, please go to the home page and click the USA map, where I have wildlife removal experts listed in over 500 cites and towns, who can properly help you with your nuisance stray cat.

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Whether you’ve come across a long-time stray or a neighborhood kitty that’s escaped the yard, earning the trust of a stray cat can be tricky. The goal is to catch the cat without harming them or scaring them off completely, but we have to make sure to keep ourselves safe as well. A scared cat can become aggressive when they are trying to defend themselves. Remember, they don’t know you’re there to help. Regardless of how you found the cat, you’ll want to keep these tips in mind when building trust.

#1 – Understand Body Language

Perhaps the most important part of building the trust of a stray or loose cat is understanding feline body language. Misreading a cat’s signals can send them running into the dangerous street or lead to a potential bite. Knowing when the cat is stressed, when the cat is beginning to feel more comfortable, and when you can approach is important for a safe rescue. With a frightened cat, timing is going to be crucial. If you try to approach them too soon, you might never be able to catch them.

How to approach a stray cat

#2 – Use Food

Food is your friend. Use food that smells delicious. In this instance, a few table scraps might entice a hungry cat to come out of hiding. That said, you’ll obviously want to avoid foods that are toxic or dangerous, such as cooked chicken bones. You’ll first want to place the food on the ground and walk away from it. If you are too close, the kitty won’t go near the food because they’re afraid of you. Offer just a little bit of food at a time. Start by watching the cat eat while you stand away at a distance (you might have to leave completely and return the next day), and move closer and closer until the cat will eat the food out of your hand. Once you can feed the cat this way, you can start trying to pet the cat. Eventually, you’ll be able to touch the cat easily and get them crated and off to a new start.

How to approach a stray catImage source: Tamara Craiu via Flickr

#3 – Be Patient

Patience is key. A stray cat is likely not going to feel confident interacting with people. Even your neighbor’s loose kitty might be afraid to greet strangers. Patience will prevent both you and the cat from getting injured. Don’t rush anything. The process of building trust takes a long time, even if you are trying to lure the cat into a humane trap. Catching a stray cat can take many hours and sometimes even days. Rushing the process is going to cause more fear for the cat, potentially scare them into a more dangerous area, and put you at risk for being bitten. We all want to see stray cats rescued and in good hands, but doing too much too soon can cause much more harm than good. Be patient, earn trust gradually, and soon enough, you’ll be heading home together.

How to approach a stray cat

If you happen to find yourself in a situation where you notice a cat that seems to have wandered from its home, you might be wondering what to do if you find a stray cat. If you’re interested in helping the poor missing animal, here are the steps you can take to ensure its safety without causing harm to yourself.

Stray or Feral?

This is a crucial first step because there is a significant difference between a stray and a feral cat. Feral cats have fended for themselves from the day they were born and aren’t likely to adapt well to domesticated life. Stray cats, on the other hand, are domesticated pets who may have gotten lost or stolen. Feral cats are usually wary of people and have little to no experience socializing while stray cats aren’t averse to human contact and even depend on people for care and provision.

If the cat has identification tags, this almost definitely means that it’s domesticated, and has an owner searching for him somewhere. In terms of appearance, a pet cat may start to look like a feral cat after being away from home for some time.

Observe instead how the cat behaves. Does he meow back when you try to talk to him? Does he approach if you offer food? Does he appear to behave like a house cat? If the cat does any of these things, he’s most likely a stray and you can proceed to take the next steps to helping him.

But what to do if you find a feral cat? The best way is to inquire about how to be a caretaker of a feral cat colony that you might have spotted or support your local government’s neutering programs.

Capturing a Stray Cat

What should you do if you find a stray cat? Your primary concern would of course be his safety–and yours. You can’t predict how a lost animal will behave so remember to approach with caution. If you’re driving when you see the stray, park on the safe side of the road and try to capture the stray cat by luring him into your car, preferably with strong-smelling food.

Avoid making sudden movements and speak in calm, reassuring tones as you make your approach. It’s better if you can find anything to confine him such as a carrier, a leash, a rope, or any piece of cloth to keep him in a safe area. If the animal looks aggressive, you may seek the help of animal rescue in capturing him. Also, check If the pet has microchip. That way you can extract contact information

How to approach a stray cat

Providing Immediate Care

Once you’ve successfully rescued and transported the stray cat home, providing him with food and necessary medical attention should be your next concern. Seeing the vet is especially important if you need to know what to do if you find a pregnant stray cat. At home, safety precautions should of course be exercised. Keep him in a comfortable, confined space away from people or other pets, as you don’t know what diseases or parasites the stray could be carrying.

With regard to feeding a stray cat , make sure to do it in moderation. He may be suffering from starvation and eating and drinking too much at once could make him sick. You can offer him commercial cat food or, if you don’t have any available, you can serve him cooked beef, fish, or chicken meat, boiled eggs, or organ meat. Spices like onion and garlic are toxic to felines so avoid adding these ingredients.

If you can’t accommodate the stray cats in your own home, you can contact the animal shelter where he could be given the care he needs as he waits to be adopted. Familiarize yourself with the shelter’s rules on how long they can hold a stray cat. Shelters would typically allow it if you ask them if you yourself can care for the cat while the search for the owner is underway.

How to approach a stray cat


Looking for the Stray Cats Owner

Now that the stray cat is officially in your care, trying to locate the owners is the next step on what to do when you find a stray cat. There are many ways to go about this, starting with reporting your found cat to PawMaw.com and calling up animal shelters, vet hospitals, and the local animal rescue authorities to inform them of the cat you found. Post a listing on every lost and found site that allows you to do for free. Make sure to upload a description and a clear photo of the cat.

Putting up flyers is also one of the most effective ways if you’re wondering what do you do if you find a stray cat. Many owners who have lost their pets are immediately contacted by concerned citizens who may have spotted a lost pet with a matching description. Make sure to provide updated contact details on where callers can reach you.

Finding Him a New Home

If you’re considering keeping the stray cat as your own, you’d have to check state law provisions on what do you do when you find a stray cat and are interested in adopting him. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) can be a good resource for this kind of information. If you have the capacity to adopt a stray cat , you’ll be stopping a whole generation of strays and it’s clearly a noble thing to do.

However, some states would require a certain holding period before an animal is eligible for adoption. During the waiting period, you’d also be required to make all efforts necessary to find the owner. If the cat isn’t claimed by anyone, you can coordinate with the local shelter throughout the process of adoption.

How to approach a stray cat

Want to know how to catch a feral cat? We’ve got the answer. Want to know why anyone would want to get a feral cat into a carrier? We’ve got that covered too. Carry on reading to find out what the differences between stray and feral cats are, and how to assist both. And of course, how to get them into a carrier.

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • How to get a feral cat into a carrier
  • What the difference is between a feral cat and a stray cat
  • Why feral cats are potentially a problem
  • What you can do to help

4 Easy Steps To Get A Feral Cat Into A Carrier

CAUTION: this process can be dangerous!! You can seriously injure both yourself and the animal in this process if you are not careful. Please consult a professional if you are unsure about any of the following steps.

Getting a stray into a carrier will be a lot easier than trying to get a feral cat in one, but it can be done. You’ll need:

  • A cat carrier
  • A blanket
  • A towel
  • To be calm and confident
  1. With the blanket in two hands, calmly approach the cat from behind. As quickly as you can, place the blanket over its head, making sure their entire head and body are covered.
  2. Keeping your wits about you, firmly place your hands over the towel and the cat’s shoulders. As you scoop up the cat, make sure the blanket is folded underneath it.
  3. As soon as you can, place the cat in the carrier with the blanket. Trust us, he’ll find his own way out of it.
  4. Grab the towel and cover the carrier to help keep the cat calm.

This video will also help

The best cat carriers are the ones that open at the top, and we suggest a hard-sided one for this purpose. A soft carrier might not stand up to the scratching and clawing of a feral cat suddenly finding himself contained.

If you know the cat hasn’t eaten for a few days, you could lure it into the carrier with some food. As soon as he’s in, cover him with a towel.

Often, if a feral female has kittens, you can place them in the carrier. She’ll follow them straight in.

Another option is to set a trap. Attach string to the carrier door, and close it as soon as the cat’s inside the carrier. Make sure you get to it as quickly as possible to securely shut it.

What Is The Difference Between a Feral Cat and a Stray Cat

Stray and feral cats look no different from one another, in fact, they don’t look any different to your pet cat. But they’re all different in terms of how they interact with people. Being able to tell the stray or pet cats from a feral cat is the first step in knowing what needs to be done when you come into contact with them.

Stray Cats

Strays, like pet cats, have been socialized to be around people, but through various circumstances, have found themselves without a home. A stray cat will make eye contact, and even in some cases, display human-friendly body language. They also tend to be on their own and will stay in areas where people are.

If you find a cat wandering the streets, and you’re able to catch it, start with a visit to the vet. If it has been microchipped, there’s a good chance you will be able to locate its owner. Otherwise, post a message on your community Facebook page, or create a flyer to distribute in your area.

The critical thing to remember is that strays, with your help, patience, and a lot of love, can become a pet again.

Feral Cats

There’s a great quote from the famous Mario Andretti, which is “everything comes to those who wait… except a (feral) cat.” Apologies for the slight adaptation, but even a lost pet or stray cat will warm to a human and look for attention and affection in some form. Feral cats won’t.

Feral cats have never had contact with people, or their interactions with humans have diminished. There’s very little chance of rehoming an adult feral cat. However, kittens can be socialized and adopted, as long as it’s done at an early age.

A significant distinction between feral cats and strays is how and where they live. Feral cats live in colonies and in areas away from people. They will, however, find a home near shelter and food, like abandoned buildings, barns, and alleyways.

Why Feral Cats Are A Problem

For the most part, feral cats can fend for themselves and their offsprings. Often communities adopt these cats, making sure they have adequate food and water, and sometimes stepping in if a cat has been injured.

The problem is that a lot of feral cats aren’t spayed or neutered. According to stats, between 30 and 40 million feral cats are living in the US. Given that a female cat can start reproducing at 16 weeks, and have two to three litters a year, if not managed, this overpopulation can lead to all sorts of problems.

What Is The Solution?

Unfortunately, the solution isn’t a simple one. Some people think these cat communities are a nuisance and are capable of spreading disease, while others are more than happy taking care of them with the occasional meal.

While the debate rages on, there is something you (and your neighborhood) can do to help.

Trap-Neuter-Return

The Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) method is a popular one amongst feral cat organizations, and for a good reason. This procedure includes:

  • Trapping feral cats in a humane way
  • Neutering or spaying them
  • Vaccinating them
  • Removing the tip of one ear surgically
  • Returning them to their colony

If the idea of catching a cat in a carrier is too overwhelming, you can contact one of the many brilliant organizations that work with feral or community cats daily. They will assist with the TNR procedure and also give advice on how best to look after your local alley cat gang.

Better yet, why not volunteer? You can become an advocate for TNR, and help educate your community.

Some other articles you might be interested in! I review the top kitten foods and reveal the best brands.

Whether you’ve come across a long-time stray or a neighborhood kitty that’s escaped the yard, earning the trust of a stray cat can be tricky. The goal is to catch the cat without harming them or scaring them off completely, but we have to make sure to keep ourselves safe as well. A scared cat can become aggressive when they are trying to defend themselves. Remember, they don’t know you’re there to help. Regardless of how you found the cat, you’ll want to keep these tips in mind when building trust.

#1 – Understand Body Language

Perhaps the most important part of building the trust of a stray or loose cat is understanding feline body language. Misreading a cat’s signals can send them running into the dangerous street or lead to a potential bite. Knowing when the cat is stressed, when the cat is beginning to feel more comfortable, and when you can approach is important for a safe rescue. With a frightened cat, timing is going to be crucial. If you try to approach them too soon, you might never be able to catch them.

How to approach a stray cat

#2 – Use Food

Food is your friend. Use food that smells delicious. In this instance, a few table scraps might entice a hungry cat to come out of hiding. That said, you’ll obviously want to avoid foods that are toxic or dangerous, such as cooked chicken bones. You’ll first want to place the food on the ground and walk away from it. If you are too close, the kitty won’t go near the food because they’re afraid of you. Offer just a little bit of food at a time. Start by watching the cat eat while you stand away at a distance (you might have to leave completely and return the next day), and move closer and closer until the cat will eat the food out of your hand. Once you can feed the cat this way, you can start trying to pet the cat. Eventually, you’ll be able to touch the cat easily and get them crated and off to a new start.

How to approach a stray catImage source: Tamara Craiu via Flickr

#3 – Be Patient

Patience is key. A stray cat is likely not going to feel confident interacting with people. Even your neighbor’s loose kitty might be afraid to greet strangers. Patience will prevent both you and the cat from getting injured. Don’t rush anything. The process of building trust takes a long time, even if you are trying to lure the cat into a humane trap. Catching a stray cat can take many hours and sometimes even days. Rushing the process is going to cause more fear for the cat, potentially scare them into a more dangerous area, and put you at risk for being bitten. We all want to see stray cats rescued and in good hands, but doing too much too soon can cause much more harm than good. Be patient, earn trust gradually, and soon enough, you’ll be heading home together.