Although it is possible to to go down the path of adopting a stray cat, and many people do, there can be some major problems in the process. Most people that adopt stray cats already know a lot about cats, and their different temperaments, but if you are considering adopting a stray cat in your area, there are some important factors to take into account before you do.
In this article we will look at some of these major problems, so that you can decide if it is really worth adopting a stray cat, and so that you can make an informed decision, because it will be a big commitment.
Important matters to consider in relation to adopting a stray cat.
1. Is it a stray or feral cat?
One of the first things you need to be sure of is whether a cat is a stray, or a feral cat, and there is a big difference between the two. In addition, it is also not recommended to try, and adopt a feral cat, so let us look at the difference.
- A feral cat is the same as any other domestic cat, it is not a different species, it has just been born into the wild, developed hunting skills, and prefers to stay away from humans as much as possible, and often live in colonies.
- A stray cat is a cat that has lost his home, or owner due to the owner died or moved away, or someone who just didn’t want a cat anymore. Furthermore, it has been domesticated, and is used to human contact, but is now living in the wild.
- Depending on how long the stray cat has been in the wild, he could have resorted to being feral, and may even be part of a colony. That being said, most strays seem to want human contact, and will often be seen on front porches begging for scraps, and will even allow you to pet them or even pick them up.
- It is the stray cat that you may have developed a relationship with that we will be focusing on in this article today, because this is the type of cat you may be thinking of adopting as we did with Oscar our current cat. Once you have decided you want to adopt a stray cat there are several things you have to consider before going ahead with this, and the first thing is knowing if he is tame enough to allow you to hold him and put him in a cage.
2. Get the stray cat comfortable with being placed in a cat cage
- Putting a stray cat into a cage may take some time, because he will be suspicious of it if he has never been in one before, so introduce the cage to him over a period of time, even allow him to go inside of his own accord.
- The reason you need to get him inside a cage is, because one of the first things you need to do is to get him to a vet, and there are several reasons for this.
3. Have the cat checked out by a vet for diseases
- Firstly you need to have the cat checked out by a professional to ensure he has no diseases from being in the wild, and secondly so that you can insure he has the correct vaccinations, and preventive shots to protect him and you and your family.
- Vaccinations are extremely important for any cat, but especially for a cat that has spent some time in the wild, because they can have diseases that can not only effect you and your family, but also other cats that may be in your home too. Here are some of the more important ones that should be checked for.
4. Feline Leukemia
- Feline Leukemia can be a deadly disease that can spread from one cat to another just by sharing the same water bowl, and there is no cure, but vets do not often see cases of this disease in vaccinated populations of cats.
- Having said that, it is not just diseases that can spread to other cats, there are also diseases that cats can give to humans ( as mentioned below ) and some are not very pleasant to deal with.
- This is a condition that humans can contract from cats and although a healthy person may show no signs of this disease, it is a concern for pregnant women or those whose immune system is compromised.
- Toxoplasmosis comes from a parasite called toxoplasma, and those who do get it usually suffer from headaches, muscle pain, sore throat, fever and enlarged nymph nodes.
- This condition is found in cat feces, and for those with a compromised immune system may experience more severe symptoms, treatment usually consist of antibiotics.
6. Cat scratch fever
- This is also another condition that can be caught by humans, otherwise known as Bartonellosis, and cats can also spread this to other cats via licking, scratching, biting and even sneezing.
- Symptoms in cats are a high fever, pneumonia and even bronchitis, however, symptoms in humans can be fever, fatigue, headache and swollen nymph nodes.
- While treatment may not be necessary for a healthy person, someone with a compromised immune system may require antibiotics, this condition mostly feels like a mild case of flu.
- Another condition that cats can pass on to other cats is ringworm, but can also be transmitted to dogs and humans as well. Symptoms of ringworm are circular spots of hair loss, also ringworm is not actually a worm but rather a fungus.
- Cats do not have to be in close contact with others for them to transmit this condition either, as it can be contracted from infected food bowls or even bedding, and the spores of ringworm can remain active up to one year.
- This is a concerning condition, because once you have it, it can take a very long time to eradicate it from your home once it is established.
- Probably the most concerning disease that stray cats may have is rabies, and due to the high mortality rate of animals that have rabies, virtually 100%, is also concerning for humans, because they can catch it too.
- However, in humans if caught early rabies is completely treatable with shots, but it’s better to err on the side of caution where this condition is concerned.
- Rabies is passed on usually by a bite, but any contact with saliva can pass it on, also it can be difficult to tell if a stray has rabies as they may have it for months before showing any symptoms, so any bite should be treated immediately, and rabies shots are very important.
- Catching diseases, and conditions from cats, and strays passing conditions on to other cats, dogs and even humans is not the only concern when adopting a stray.
- The chances are a stray will have fleas, mites, lice or some other parasite, and once a home is invaded by these parasites, it is difficult to say the least to get rid of them entirely, plus it can be very uncomfortable for everyone in the home.
- Moreover, if a stray has been used to living alone, bringing him into a home with other pets, especially cats, can result in fighting, and territorial disputes within the home.
- If you have decided to adopt a stray cat, be prepared for all the above situations, and take precautions in every area, be sure to take your new friend to the vet, that is the very first thing to do.
- Speak to the vet, or an animal shelter to get the best advice on how to introduce him into the home without any stress or anxiety, make sure he gets all the shots he needs as well as a clean bill of health from the vet.
- Adopting a stray is a large commitment, and you have to be sure to take into account the stray, and the effect it may have on both you and your family, as well as discuss with a professional whether it will be the best thing for the cat.
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13 thoughts on “Adopting a Stray Cat. How To Avoid Colossal Problems”
Aww the cat is super cute. Thanks for letting us know the difference between stray cats and feral cats, since I wasn’t sure before reading this. There are some helpful information there about what we should be aware of before adopting a stray cats. Lots of people like to go and adopt a cat without knowing all the commitment and responsibilities. They definitely should read this post in order to learn how to take great care of their new friend.
Glad you enjoyed reading this article Kien and many thanks for your feedback.
Hi Jim, thanks for the informative read.
I am very very lucky where I live, with regards to ‘strays’.
We have 3 or 4 cats that seem to wander about the neighbourhood, looking for food and a place to sleep, and I know 5-6 people who see the same cats now and again.
They do not really stray in the usual sense, they all look fairly well cared for compared to your average strays, it is just no one knows who they belong to, they have no identichips or tags.
The reasons I say we are lucky, because, across the road from me, we have a veterinary nurse, whom I see most days, she works at the local veterinary surgery, which is about 5 minutes away, where my own cats go, and we see a couple of the veterinarians regularly passing by on their way to and from work, and they provide a mobile service, and 1-2 a year they will treat animals for free and they will come around, and these cats gets a look over by the vet and kept an eye on by the nurse.
She thinks they are probably cats from people who have passed away, or been moved into care, or just forgotten about. They are not a nuisance, from time to time you wonder where one has gone, and I hope it has found a home to stay in.
I will feed them if they come around and my own cats do not seem to mind them too much as long as they don’t try to get into the house itself, they seem more occupied with the two cats living next door who try to cross the garden!
Thanks for those comments Neil. Unfortunately my experience where I live is that people who move home often don’t take their cats with them preferring to just abandon them which is very cruel. The local council’s policy is to round up such cats at night, check to see whether they have been micro chipped to identify their owners and if not they are taken to a cat haven and if not claimed within a period of time are euthanized.
Hi Jim, I agree, where I live is very lucky for animal welfare, I know lots of places have to take a much harder line on abandoned animals.
I got all of my cats from the local Cats Protection League (Cat shelter), as did my parents, I have had 5 cats from them now over the years, I have 2 at the moment, and my parents have had 2.
My wife and I rescued 2 cats from the animal shelter a few years back when they were just a few weeks old. It only cost a few dollars if I remember right and they were spayed and neutered.
Your information is designed to help people make the right, informed decision. And it does.
Thanks for making this available to everyone and I hope this helps many more people.
Great comments Sheldon and you certainly got a bargain there! Glad you enjoyed reading this article.
I had not idea of the number of diseases cats can carry and how many can be species jumpers, in this case cats to humans. Although, I knew about parasites, ringworm and rabies, Toxoplasmosis and Cat scratch fever are two new ones to me. More importantly, as you point out, is the ease that these diseases can jump from cats to humans is very surprising.
I have two dogs so your article makes me wonder if in addition to parasites, ringworm and rabies there are diseases similar to Toxoplasmosis and Cat scratch fever that dogs can pass easily to humans. Especially, when the dogs are in the park or in the kennel around other dogs.
Your article is essential and thought provoking to those of us who believe in take in strays, rescue animals and pound pets. People,especially children, can get caught up in the excitement of getting a pet that where the animal has been or any diseases picked up is overlooked.
Very pleased that you enjoyed reading this article Dave. Toxoplasmosis is more commonly found in North American cats and rarely in dogs. While dogs can also be affected from Cat scratch fever ( otherwise known as Bartonellosis ) caused by fleas, ticks, lice and flies feeding on their blood it is less commonly passed on to humans. As a safeguard to both pets and their owners it is wise to regularly use a veterinary recommended flea and tick prevention product on your pet.
I have seen a lot of cats in my neighborhood. I still don’t know if they are ferals or strays. Some cats are convenient with people around them while others seem to maintain some sort of distances. And yes, they are in the same group.
Should I adopt one of them? Of course, adopting one that is approachable.
Why not Arief? We certainly did this with Oscar our current cat after we were certain he had been abandoned by his previous owners but we also ensured that he was thoroughly checked out by a local vet first.
I’m glad I read this because believe it or not I was in a group meeting and they mentioned feral cat and I did not know exactly what that meant. I have seen it around my job but did not know they were classified that way in the cat family. I have noticed that these cats will not try to have anything to do with you when you try to call them to you. And I did not know that it was so many diseases to be careful of either. Thanks for making me aware of this.
You are welcome Ronnie. Pleased that you enjoyed reading this article.