How Can I Help Stray Cats?
As winter approaches, posts begin to circulate on social media about cats hiding under the bonnets of cars for warmth. Then as spring arrives, hundreds of stray cats have to continue surviving on the street. So if you want to know how you can help stray cats, we will tell you how to start:
Help Stray Cats in a Managed Colony
The simplest step to help stray cats is to find out if there is a “managed” cat colony where you live and who is in charge of it. You could make contact with them and offer to lend them a hand.
Animal welfare groups always need volunteers to help out, as well as donations to help buy food and other materials. Think about how you can help and offer what help you can.
Helping out with a managed cat colony will help you to understand what to do in certain circumstances. You will be spending time with more experienced people that already know the cats and who can guide you, regarding what the cats do and do not need.
It might seem easy to feed stray cats. You might just leave some food close to where they live. But if you are not careful it can be dangerous for them, or even cause a public health problem in the area.
If there is a colony of stray cats where you live that is not managed – by a professional or anybody else – you could begin to manage it yourself. But, when feeding these cats, you need to consider the following points:
- Only use dry food. Do not leave moist food unless absolutely necessary, and certainly do not feed them leftovers. Moist food attracts insects, rats, and other pests, whilst leftovers could be poisonous or harmful for cats.
- Remove spoiled food or empty dishes when you see them. Do not allow the place where the cats live to become full of rubbish, for the cats, as much as for public health.
- Each time you visit, change their water for fresh water. Do not let their water go stagnant, as they will not want to drink it and it could make them sick.
- Before you leave, leave any food hidden and out of reach of other passers-by. Some heartless person could poison it or spoil it, or another animal may eat it.
Sterilising Cats in Colonies
Part of the responsibility of managing a colony is sterilising the cats. Through TNR projects, stray cats are trapped, neutered, and then returned to the colony. It is the hardest and most expensive part of managing a colony, but it is the only way to stop cats from breeding and thus, the colony growing.
The more cats that are sterilised, the fewer kittens are born. Sterilised cats will also stop having fights over their territory. Therefore, sterilising the cats will improve their quality of life and dramatically reduce the chances of them suffering an accident.
Refuges From the Cold
There are different solutions to help stray cats in the coldest parts of the year. As we mentioned earlier in this article, you need to check your car bonnet before you start the car. But within cat colonies, you can create comfortable shelters for them, to help them in the cold months.
One of the common ways of doing this is to use two large plastic boxes, one larger than the other. Make a hole in each of the boxes, and place one inside the other. Then fill the gap between the two boxes with straw. This way, the space between the two boxes will insulate the box where they will sleep.
Another option is to use a shed for the cats to sleep inside. Some colonies have these, but they are much less economical and not as easy as the plastic boxes.
In spring, the cats will start to reproduce. If you find a litter of infant kittens, follow these steps to ensure that you do your best for them:
- Be sure that the mother is not going to return. The mothers need to go hunting and leave the kittens for a while each day. Keep a close eye, but so that the mother cannot see you, for two or three hours. If she does not return within this time, you may assume that they are orphans and that they are your responsibility.
- Try to find another mother for the kittens or another cat that has recently had a litter who might adopt them. There are people who have experience with these problems who may be able to help.
- Look for information on how to feed orphan kittens and help them to survive. It is not difficult to look after orphaned kittens, as long as you know how to do so. Luckily, there is plenty of information available online.
- Find someone who will adopt them. Once they are weaned and are able to go to the sandbox on their own, try to find them a good family. Be sure to only give them to responsible people who will not abandon them when they are older. We want to reduce the number of stray cats, not increase it!
If you want to help stray cats it is not difficult and it should be everybody’s responsibility. Cats share the environment with us and it does not take much to make their lives a little easier.
Source of Main Image: Antonio Marín Segovia