Adopting a stray cat sounds difficult, but it can get harder if you’re not careful at first. Here’s what you should know before you adopt a stray so that the adoption doesn’t cause you any trouble later on.
Adopting a stray cat is an act of kindness that can pay off in terms of companionship and love. However, it's not always an easy endeavor.
Here are some tips to help make your experience with a rescued feline go smoothly:
#1 Take It to a Vet First
One of the most vital steps in adopting a stray cat is to ensure its health. If you aren't experienced with cats and unsure of how to tell if your new pet is sick, take it to the vet for a thorough exam. Your local animal shelter or humane society may be able to recommend a vet in your area who has experience with spaying and neutering cats.
If there are no obvious signs that the cat is unwell, you should find out whether it's been treated for fleas or other parasites recently by having it checked by your own veterinarian.
It is likely that you will have some trouble convincing the cat to tag along with you to the vet. They might try to dodge your attempts, which is why you might have to use a cat harness and leash.
#2 Treat for Fleas and Ticks
Fleas and ticks are a common problem among stray cats. They can cause serious health issues for your new pet, including allergy dermatitis, anemia, tapeworms, and even death. You should always check your cat for fleas or ticks before adopting them.
If you find one on your new cat, it is important to treat them immediately as they can be very difficult to remove once they have become established in a home environment. The good news is that many different types of flea and tick medication are available at most pet stores. Most of these products come in pill form, which makes it easy to give the flea and tick medicine without getting bitten yourself.
Flea and tick meds are available for both cats and dogs. The flea pills for cats are different from the flea pills for dogs. For effective cat flea treatment, you can try Capstar for cats. You can also try a flea collar for cats.
#3 Take Care of Medical Issues As Necessary
Even healthy cats can be prone to certain health issues apart from fleas and ticks. If you see evidence of these in your cat, talk with your vet about how best to treat them. Also, ask them what you can do to prevent those diseases or pests from getting into the house again.
Some diseases are seasonal, while others tend to spread like an epidemic. Be aware of those diseases and treat your cat for them first.
#4 Know What the Cat is Used to Eating Before Switching Its Diet
In general, you should switch your cat's diet gradually over weeks. Cats are very sensitive to sudden changes in their diet. So, if you plan on feeding them something different than what they're used to (dry food instead of wet food or vice versa), start by adding small amounts of the new food into their existing meal until they've had enough time to adjust.
If your stray cat has been eating both dry and wet food as a stray, try switching only one thing at first. If it was used to eating dry food as a stray, try offering just moistened dry kibble. If it was used to getting its fill from wet treats alone and ignoring the canned variety altogether, try turning those treats into gel-like blocks by mixing them with water and freezing them for an hour or two before serving.
For dry food, you can give your cat the Hill’s Science Diet cat food or the Canidae cat food. For wet cat food, you can try the Blue Buffalo Cat Food with natural tuna flavor.
#5 Give the Cat Some Space
Stray cats are used to being on their own, and they may be shy or scared of you at first. Let them get used to your presence, and don't try to force a relationship when it's not there. This might mean leaving the house for a while if you want a playdate with your new cat friend. Letting the cat come to you rather than chasing after it will help build trust between you two.
#6 Be Patient With the Cat's Behavior
It's important to be patient and understanding of your new companion, who may not be used to living in a home or around children or other pets. Stray cats are often wary of human contact. They may hide from you, run away when you try to pet them, or bite if you're too rough. If your new cat is skittish or aggressive at first, allow him time to adjust by letting it sniff around the house before interacting. You can also try feeding it near its food bowl so that it gets used to your smell without being scared off right away.
If its aggression seems severe like it hisses at people passing by the window or bites anyone who gets too close, consult a vet immediately. Your vet will give an accurate diagnosis based on the nature and severity of his symptoms.
#7 Do Not Correct Behavior by Physically Punishing the Cat
While it is tempting to correct your cat's behavior by physically punishing him, this is not the best way to train a cat. Cats do not intentionally misbehave, and therefore, their actions should be viewed as normal behaviors that are unchangeable. The best way to deal with a stray cat's undesirable habits is through positive reinforcement training instead of negative reinforcement training (e.g., hitting, yelling at them). This teaches the cat that when it does something good, it gets rewarded; when it does something wrong, it gets punished.
Your cat will probably not associate the punishment with what he did wrong because cats don't have the same level of reasoning as humans do. They have an instinctual understanding of things based on their body language and other stimuli in their environment, but they can't always connect those dots when it comes to human-like behavior like lying down on your couch or scratching your favorite chair. Punishment will likely make your cat afraid of you rather than teach it what's acceptable behavior around people.
#8 Always Provide Fresh Food and Water
Always provide fresh food, water, and plenty of litter boxes around your home. Cats are clean animals and need to use the litter box frequently. The more cats you have in your household, the more litter boxes you will need to keep them happy. For your new feline friend, you can use Arm and Hammer cat litter as it is one of the best litters available on the market.
Keep the area where their food is clean so it stays dry and free from pests like mice or rats. A cat parent should also be sure to wash out their cat's dishes every day (or at least every other day). This way, they will always be able to enjoy their dinner without having any worries about getting sick from eating something dirty.
Finally, don't forget about hiding places for those shy kitties out there who like privacy when they eat or sleep. If you have enough space available in your home, get creative with creating little nooks throughout where they can go hide away while still being close by.
The best thing you can do is to prepare yourself for the unexpected. Many stray cats have been living alone for years, so it’s unlikely they will adjust overnight. Be patient, and remember that it may take time before your feline friend feels comfortable in their new home.