Should I Feed This Cat? A Guide to Feral, Stray, & Neighborhood Cats


Have you ever ever heard a meow outside your home and been confronted with an unfamiliar furball? In the event that they seem desperate for attention, you may begin to wonder – is that this a stray cat or someone’s pet? This may soon snowball into a complete world of worries – are they being cared for? Is it secure to allow them to into my home? Should I feed them, in the event that they are a stray cat? Where can I’m going for help? 

But we’ve got you covered! 

We know the way it feels whenever you’re anxious about an animal, after attempting to help several strays on our travels with Yoda (our own furry beast). In that point, we’ve managed to choose up a number of suggestions and tricks for sussing out what’s going to best help your noisy visitor. 

To make it easier to safely take care of any unexpected furry guests, this guide covers the fundamentals of feeding and caring for neighborhood & stray cats. Including:

  • Telling the difference between a stray cat vs a house cat
  • Why and easy methods to feed a stray cat
  • Where to take an injured stray cat
  • locate a lost cat’s owners
  • What to do when a neighborhood cat won’t leave

Plus, we’ll dive into the politics of neighborhood cats cruising for meals, and easy methods to stop your individual cat from going to neighbors for seconds!

Help Feral and Stray Cats

Telling the Difference Between a Stray Cat or Someone’s Pet

When you find yourself apprehensive a couple of kitty in your yard or in your travels, this query could be the first that springs to mind. But telling the difference between a stray cat vs a pet cat could be a real puzzle!

Here’s a number of ways to make it easier to spot the difference:

  • A wandering pet cat will often:
    • Have some type of ID, like a collar and tag or microchip
    • Have a clean, well kept coat 
    • Be a median weight
    • Have softer paw pads (from being indoors more often)
    • Be friendly and approachable, and meow as a greeting
    • Seem confident of their environment 
    • Move around in the course of the day 
    • Not persist in searching for contact and move on after some time
  • A stray cat will often:
    • Have a messy or overly dirty coat
    • No visible ID and no microchip, or a really dirty/old looking collar
    • Be barely underweight – as they might only be fed scraps by humans 
    • Have calloused or rough paw pads (from being outdoors)
    • Be hesitant or wary, or appear to be begging loudly 
    • Seem unsure of their environment, as they could possibly be lost
    • Be present in quieter hours similar to dawn and dusk
    • Be persistent in searching for attention and food

It’s essential to say that there’s a third kind of cat you may encounter here: Feral Cats.

Feral cats are wild, and have been born and raised without human interaction. Even in the event that they find yourself sneaking into your garage or outbuilding for warmth, they’re on no account tame!

Spot a Feral Cat?

You’ll notice that they:

  • Skinny, but typically a healthy weight – as they’re used to looking for themselves
  • Have a comparatively well-kept coat – as they’ve grown up learning to groom themselves 
  • Will are inclined to be very skittish and avoid humans – generally sticking to less populated areas, in order that they are unlikely to be begging at your door
  • Have very rough and calloused paw pads – should you can get close enough to examine! 

Here’s a handy diagnostic table to make it easier to:

Outdoor Pet Stray Cat Feral Cat
Healthy Weight ✔️ X ✔️/X
Good Coat Condition ✔️ X ✔️/X
Approachable ✔️ ✔️/X X
Vulnerable to Begging X ✔️ X
Wandering in Daytime ✔️ X X
Wandering at Night or Dawn X ✔️ ✔️
ID ✔️ X X

Top tip: change into a kitty detective

The data above is only a general guideline; they’re the everyday qualities most individuals find true of the differing types of out of doors cat. 

But should you are apprehensive about a selected kitty, my primary tip is to spend a while observing them.

All cats might be wary of individuals at times, so sitting a way off and watching their behavior and condition over time can offer you those all essential clues! 

Doing this before you even attempt to approach the cat can make it easier to to get a real sense of where your furry visitor matches into the above table. In reality, they might just run away whenever you attempt to get close!

When you’re pretty sure that you’ve determined the brand new arrival’s situation, here’s easy methods to handle them. 

Help Stray Cats

Whether a stray cat has been abandoned or lost – there are methods you might help. But it surely’s super essential to be cautious and careful, to make sure that we don’t unintentionally scare or cause further suffering to a stray. So take things slow and regular! 

  1. Check for injuries and seek medical care if needed
  2. Give them fresh food and water
  3. Provide strays with an outside shelter
  4. Spread the word to assist get them adopted out

In the event that they seem healthy and mobile, approaching your fluffy visitor may be off the cards until they trust you sufficient to make contact. Nevertheless, in the event that they are injured, they might need more immediate help. 

1. Where to Take an Injured Stray or Feral Cat?

If there’s something visibly flawed with the kitty, it’s best to attempt to trap them with food, either using a live animal humane trap or by constructing a DIY version. 

The Feral Friends Network can make it easier to find veterinarians who’re stray friendly and offer low-cost help. 

Keep in mind that trapping is super stressful for our furry friends, so should only be done when it’s totally obligatory. 

2. Feeding Stray Cats

Is it okay to feed stray cats? f a stray cat doesn’t seem sick, then your first and largest priority is food and water. 

Read More: Ultimate Guide to Cat Nutrition

Is It Bad to Feed Stray Cats? Not at All!

Many stray cats select to return to human homes and find the food and care they need. Yet take note: it’s vital to feed a stray cat the fitting thing, or you may find yourself making them sick – which no person would need for!

Quality cat food is among the best things to feed a stray. Feed strays in small quantities at first (3-4 times a day), before progressively constructing their portions to 2 larger meals a day.

For those who aren’t the cat owner yourself, and also you don’t wish to risk a run to the shop, listed below are some ideas for what to feed stray cats without cat food. 

If You Feed a Stray Cat Will It Come Back?

Most definitely, yep! This implies you may begin to construct trust and work towards having the ability to get them to a vet. 

3. Providing Shelter for Strays

Assuming you’re unable to handle the stray cat, your next priority is to assist in giving the cat some shelter. You should utilize any boxes you’ve across the house, and follow a tutorial to create a comfortable, warm, and dry place in your stray. 

The hot button is to make an entranceway that’s large enough for the cat to enter, but sufficiently small to maintain in the heat. Add straw, blankets or something similar inside for extra insulation in your furry friend. If it’s winter, here’s easy methods to keep cats warm.

Elevating your shelter can be going to entice the stray inside. So either placing it in your porch, on a bench, or on some stones is a superb idea. 

4. Spreading the Word

Whilst you construct trust along with your stray, begin to spread the word to seek out it’s possible owners. 

  • Ask around your neighborhood, and check out putting up flyers
  • Check local newspapers and listings for “lost pet” adverts
  • Post a photograph and outline in your social media
  • Contact sites like PetsLocated and see if you’ve a match for any missing moggies
  • Call local shelters to see if anyone has reported a missing kitty
  • Ask an area vet to examine if the cat is microchipped

What Next?

If the cat has no identification and no owners come forward after a number of weeks, you’ve a number of options. 

  • Adopt the stray cat into your private home – give them the love, attention and care they so desperately need. Just make sure you give them a full medical check first. 
  • Adopt them as an outside cat – with a shelter in place, you possibly can take care of the cat without having them in your private home. Simply feed the cat at regular intervals, and pay attention to any medical help they might need. 
  • Take them to a shelter – should you really aren’t capable of care in your furry guest, then taking them to a shelter could help them to get adopted. Nevertheless, it is advisable to first discover information concerning the euthanasia policy of your local shelter, as this might obviously affect your decision. 
  • TNR – should you feel unable to bring a stray into your life, that’s okay! Not everyone can provide the fitting home for a kitty, but should you can attempt to follow the Trap, Neuter, Release Method. This fashion you will probably be making a positive impact on the stray’s life, and the general cat community. On average, the TNR process costs about $50-$75 from start to complete. 

Help a Feral Cat

For feral cats, you might help them by following the Trap, Neuter, Release Method we mentioned above.

It’s because they are frequently unneutered, the feral population can grow super quickly. A high population results in more fighting over territory, which isn’t good for our furry feline friends. 

For those who want more help or advice on helping your local feral cats, you possibly can contact the Feral Friends Network. 

Handle Neighborhood Cats

Why does my neighbor’s cat all the time come to my house?

There could possibly be a variety of explanation why you’re receiving regular visits from a neighborhood pet:

  • Territory – as a part of their patrol, your house may be on the watch list for a cat’s territory
  • Comfort – some cats might find your garden irresistibly sunny, or find your porch the right vantage point
  • Social interaction – many cats are extremely social animals, meaning they might be on the lookout for some extra cuddles or a special belly rub
  • Worry – if a cat has had an unpleasant experience at home, they might be searching for somewhere as a quiet refuge 

Should I Feed My Neighbor’s Cat?

Is your neighbor’s cat all the time meowing at your door? While they may be acting like they’re ravenous, should you know your feline visitor really is someone’s pet it’s smart to not feed them. 

  • Overfeeding can result in obesity, which obviously isn’t good for a kitty’s long run health
  • The pet can have medical conditions, like diabetes or thyroid issues, which suggests they should be fed at certain times
  • They could have an allergy or dietary condition you’re unaware of

In the event that they aren’t bothering you, or your individual pets, then absolutely give them somewhat scratch. Recent fur friends are great in any case! 

Lastly, try to seek out out who the owners are and pay them a visit.

Allow them to know their furball makes regular visits and get guidance from them on what they’re comfortable with. This can give each you and the unique owners real peace of mind.

Stop My Cat From Going to Neighbors?

For those who are apprehensive about your cat visiting other houses for any reason, or that somebody might think they’re a stray, listed below are some top suggestions to forestall your cat from roaming:

  • ID – make sure your cat has a transparent identification tag, to discourage anyone from pondering they are surely ravenous…despite how convincing their acting is!
  • Feeding – ensure your cat is well-fed, in order that they aren’t actively searching for out other food sources
  • Play – make sure that your cat has a number of attention and playtime, in order that they are drained out and fewer prone to wander for miles
  • Spay/Neuter – delayed de-sexing could be a big driver for cats to exit wandering. So neutering is a large priority for owners and the security of their pets 
  • Calm environment – make sure that there’s nothing across the home that could possibly be stressing out your cat and causing them to hunt quiet elsewhere
  • Consider keeping your cat indoors – keeping cats indoors might be higher for his or her health, higher for the environment, and forestall them from getting lost. Plus there’s a complete heap of other advantages in your kitty, and we made a listing of the highest 10 reasons to take into consideration keeping them in. 

We hope this guide to feeding and caring for stray, feral and neighborhood cats is useful next time you’ve a furry visitor at your step! 

If you’ve any neighborhood kitties you feed, or other tips about being an upstanding member of the feline community, do tell us! We’d love to listen to your wonderful wisdom too! 



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