Have you ever noticed any stray cats in your neighborhood? If so, you may have wondered if you should feed them or what exactly you should or shouldn’t do.Is it a stray or is it a “wild” cat? These are very good questions because the direction you take on whether to help the cat or in which way to help it depends on what the answers are.
Stray or feral?
First, you should pay attention to whether they really are a stray or if they are actually a feral cat. A stray is a cat that has had human contact and probably lived with a person or persons, whereas a feral is a member of the domestic cat species but was born “outdoors” and never had much to do with people. The best way to tell the difference is to be observant. Does it want to come up to you, or does it hiss and back away. Also a feral often hides and is mainly active at night and can fend for themselves better than a stray, it may even look better groomed because it is not lost or forlorn, but the stray is often disconcerted and unable to fend for itself, thus it may look scruffy. Feral cats generally do not need to be fed, but in this article we will deal with what to do with the stray and leave the feral cat for another time. http://www.wikihow.com/Handle-a-Stray-Cat
What to do
There are many differing opinions as to what to do once you find a stray cat, and each opinion is controversial to those whose opinion it is not. But, it seems the best approach would be a responsible one http://www.thecatscrib.com/StrayCats.htm if you decide to do something about the cat after observing it for a couple of days, and it seems safe to do so, become a caretaker of that cat, and that means to catch it, take it to be spayed or neutered, and given its shots. http://www.aboutcatsonline.com/articles/feedingstrays.htmlNext, either take it in or find another home for it. There are shelters and agencies willing to help. (Be aware there is a difference between a kill and no-kill shelter).
The problem with ignoring
There is a problem if people ignore strays in their neighborhoods; they may produce feral cats and that population can increase quickly. One female cat can have up to 3 litters per year with anywhere from 6 to 8 kittens per litter, so just ignoring the problem will not make it go away.
Low cost spaying and neutering available
There is low cost spaying and neutering available for these animals and a need to address the issue immediately. Second Chance has a clinic every Tuesday in the Orchard Park area which does both ferals and owned pets, with no income restrictions (if you decide to keep that stray cat) for $80 spay/neutered, rabies/distemper shots with no county restrictions. www.secondchanceshelteringnetwork.com and another organization that will help with stray kittens and their moms is Precious Paws of Hamburg at http://www.preciouspawsrescue.net .
Cats have been domesticated and bred by humans to be our pets and our friends and to leave them as a stray to fend for themselves in an environment they are not used to, is cruel. A meal from a garbage can or a mouse, and an existence without care and affection should not be their fate. http://www.petplace.com/cats/how-to-turn-a-stray-cat-into-a-pet/page1.aspx
Thanks to Helen Twillinger of Second Chance Sheltering Network for her advice and information.
Also, a late edition contact for spaying and neutering: Operation Pets, 3443 South Park Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14219-1059
Phone number, 716-783-8998