The life of a feral cat is not an easy one. Finding food can be a struggle, the elements can take their toll, and there are constant run-ins with dogs, other felines, vehicles, and even unfriendly humans. So if you love cats, it's only natural that when you encounter strays, you want to rescue them. Is it a good idea to bring a stray cat inside?
Is it safe to bring a stray cat inside?
The answer to that question is: It depends. If the cat you've found has lived in a home before or is very friendly, your chances of turning them into an indoor kitty are high.
Before you bring in that adorable stray that has been showing up on your doorsteps, however, there are a couple of things you need to be aware of, especially if you already have a cat or two.
That cat may not be a stray. They may be someone's lost cat or indoor/outdoor pet that likes to visit other people's homes. So before you permanently adopt the cat, check lost pet ads and have the feline scanned for a microchip.
Cats tend to be territorial, so if you have other felines, they may not be happy with your decision to add another one to your home.
A stray cat could have feline AIDS, leukemia, or parasites. If you have other cats, it's important to have the feral one examined by a veterinarian and also treated for any issues before allowing them to intermingle with your other pets.
The tip about clips
If the tip of a cat's ear is clipped, it means that it is a stray that has been caught at some point in their life and has been spayed, neutered, vaccinated, and released.
How to bring a stray cat inside?
It may take weeks, months, or even longer for a stray cat to feel comfortable enough around you to want to enter your home. Be patient and don't force physical contact. Instead, allow the stray cat to approach you. You can start by offering them food and sitting nearby so that the cat can get used to your presence.
Create a refuge
Once you're able to coax the cat inside, they should not be allowed free rein of your home. Instead, select one room where your stray cat can get acclimated to being indoors.
This room should have water and food bowls, a litter box, and perches where your cat can get up high and away from it all. You'll also want to add a few hiding places. These can be as simple as a cardboard box or something more commercial, such as a cat tunnel. If you have other pets, keep them separated until your stray has been vet checked and has had time to get accustomed to being indoors.
In the beginning, experts recommend that you don't use kitty litter in your cat's box. Instead, use something the cat would be familiar with, such as garden soil or sand.
In the long run, it's always healthier for a cat to live indoors. Other ways you can help your cat live a long, healthy life is to feed them the right diet, invest in pet insurance to help you pay for costly bills, and shower them with care and attention (if they like that sort of thing).
Lizz Caputo is a Content Strategist at Figo, animal enthusiast, and owner of a rescued senior American Bully. Her hobbies include checking out new restaurants in her area, boxing, and petting dogs of all shapes and sizes.