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How to Help Homeless Cats

Updated on October 6, 2012
Torry, the cat that came to me as a homeless kitten
Torry, the cat that came to me as a homeless kitten | Source

If you've ever wondered how to help homeless cats, then I have some tips for you.

I'm a cat lover! I think cat's deserve the title man's best friend, not dogs, at least not so much dogs.

Unfortunately, too many people bring home that cute kitten, then dump it when it loses its cute kittenish appeal, probably round about the time they get their first messed up litter tray.

Homeless cats tend to group up with other homeless cats, and roam the streets until they end up with kittens themselves, or become the father of kittens.

Of course, not everyone throws their cat out. Many elderly people keep cats as pets, as they are easy to keep as well as making good companions. No-one needs to risk muggings and street attacks walking the cat at night!

Unfortunately, often when old people take ill, get taken into hospital, or even die, no-one remembers (or perhaps even knows) about their cat, and it often gets left behind to fend for itself.

Street cats live on rodents and small birds, as well as the remains of fast food tossed carelessly away.

Sometimes they are lucky and find someone willing to adopt them, but more often than not, this is not the case and the cat will spend the rest of its life on the streets, cuddling up with other stray cats to keep warm on freezing, cold winter nights.

Un-neutered female cats will have litter after litter, and the kittens will grow half-feral, having never known the soft touch of a human being, or the joy of stretching out in front of a warm fire.

So how are we going to help homeless cats?

stray cats living among litter
stray cats living among litter | Source
Crazy cat lady costume
Crazy cat lady costume | Source

Helping homeless cats

You've heard of the cat lady? I'm going to be a cat lady when I grow up! Cat ladies feed all the stray cats in a district.

She never needs to venture far from her own front door, or workplace, because word quickly gets round the stray cat kingdom that someone is giving out free food.

One day she may feed just two or three, but the next day 10 will turn up.

Cats listen out for the sound of kindness, because it is a kindness to give free and delicious food to cats who have maybe never eaten a decent meal in their lives, at least not since they found themselves on the streets.

If she (and in my experience it is always a 'she') drives to the spot she chooses to feed the cats, all the cats listen out for, and recognize the sound of her vehicle, or her voice, or if they are far away, they will hear her rattle any cans she may be carrying, and come running.

Feeding homeless cats is actually NOT an exceptionally good idea.

Like all in the animal kingdom, well-fed cats tend to breed more than they would do if they were hungry.

So by feeding homeless cats, the problem of stray cats in a neighborhood could well be exacerbated.

However, it is an excellent way to build up their trust in humans, which will allow you to catch them easily.

Torry is the same size now as Patchy the pup (he's full grown but will always be 'the pup')
Torry is the same size now as Patchy the pup (he's full grown but will always be 'the pup') | Source

All stray cats should be neutered

It is a sad fact of life that hordes of stray cats on the street are a nuisance. No-one wants them once they have adapted to street life, as they may not make good pets afterwards.

Cats that have strayed or been thrown out, can still be rehomed, but if their kittens have grown up never knowing the touch of a human, they will be nervous and scared of people. Their only experience of humans may have been someone shouting at them, or throwing missiles at them.

These cats are very difficult to keep as house-pets after a life such as this, but it is not impossible.

If you are the cat lady in your area, or want to become one, the best thing you can do is befriend the cats. Feed them, preferably at the same time and at the same place, every day.

Get them used to at least one human (you), and once you start to gain their trust, look around for any free cat neutering schemes in your area.

Many charities operate free cat neutering services for stray cats, and ideally you want to make sure that every cat in your care gets spayed.

If one or two turns out to be a chancer, actually belonging to someone but still coming for some free grub, then get them neutered too.

If the owners were that fussed, they would either keep their cats in, or else put collars on them.

If the cat has been micro-chipped the vet will check this first and try to contact the owner before he goes ahead.

Neutering can only work if all the local stray cats are rounded up. Miss just one (female) and the whole cycle will begin again. Many domestic tom cats are not neutered.

If you cannot find a free spaying service in your area, then it is a good idea to approach your veterinary surgeon and ask if he would be willing to offer a group discount.

Many vets will be happy to offer this service, if they care about animals (or perhaps live in an area where they are nightly kept awake by yowling felines on heat!).

If the price is outside your budget, consider organizing some fund-raising events involving the local community to pay for the treatment. Most people would be happy to help.

Isn't Torry gorgeous!
Isn't Torry gorgeous! | Source

Homeless kittens that have been dumped

Sometimes people throw small kittens out on the street. Perhaps they had a tabby at home who produced a litter (again!) and they cannot re-home the offspring.

Someone did this to Toreador (well, he is a Spanish cat), or Torry as we call him, our cat.

Our local cat lady found him cowering behind the garbage bins next to the local supermarket, when he was very tiny, barely six weeks old.

She added him to her rounds, feeding him everyday, as he grew bigger.

One day she was severely distressed because we'd had heavy thundery downpours of rain, and this little kitten was soaked through, but still he came to her through the pounding rain, mewling to be fed.

She scooped him up and brought him straight round to me, where he could be warm and dry indoors.

She knew I'd said to her weeks before I would like a kitten, and was happy to take on a stray. She had organized the village strays to be neutered the year before, but missed one! So I knew this little cat, barely more than a kitten herself, had had at least two litters of kittens.

Torry didn't come from her though. Someone had witnessed a car drive up, dump him out and drive away.

I found out later that at least two other cat ladies had been feeding him too, and he ate the lot every time as if he had never seen food before.

Three or four months on and Torry is now a huge cat, as he likes his grub. He's also spotlessly clean and very loving and friendly.

Yet he was a homeless cat too.

Give a homeless cat a home, and if you can't, please feed and neuter the homeless cats in your area.

Toreador, cat most handsome
Toreador, cat most handsome | Source

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