Stray cats

Homeless cat
A stray cat in Vilnius, Lithuania

Stray cats are former pets who have either been abandoned or “strayed” from home and got lost. They are usually tame and friendly, and often try to make a home near humans – in car garages, front porches or backyard.

Many people are confusing stray cats with feral cats but they are two different kinds of cats. Feral cats have never been domesticated and are truly wild animals. They are unsocialized and therefore not adoptable. Stray cats can be picked up and touched easily, and can be rescued off the streets and re-adopted into homes again.

Red cat
A stray cat in the Old Believers' cemetery in Vilnius, Lithuania


Stray kittens

Almost half of the kittens born outdoors die from disease, exposure or parasites before their first year. If a homeless cat survives kittenhood, it average lifespan is less than two years if living on its own.

Kitten
A stray kitten in Malaga, Spain

Kittens are born neutral. They will become tame if they are socialized, feral if they are not. If you have the time and resources, it may be possible to socialize or “tame” stray kittens up to 4 months old to be friendly cats. All you need is a little skill and lots of love!

Stray kitten
A stray kitten in Malaga, Spain

If you find kittens which are alone, determine if the mother has actually abandoned them. Kittens that are being cared for will seem healthy and content. If they are older than 8 weeks, they are good candidates for Trap-Neuter-Return.

Stray kitten
A stray kitten in Malaga, Spain


What is Trap-Neuter-Return?

It is a full management plan in which stray and feral cats are humanely trapped, evaluated, vaccinated, spayed or neutered, then returned to the place where there were originally trapped.


Stray cat
A stray cat in Montmartre Cemetery in Paris, France

Cat
A stray cat in Nerja, Spain


How to help a stray cat?

Some people do not like stray cats because they see them as pests instead of pets but keep in mind that many of these cats had homes and were a companion to humans at one point. The most important thing to do if you find a stray cat is consider what you would want done if your own cat was lost.


Stray cat
A stray cat in Vilnius, Lithuania

If you see friendly cats in your yard, it's best to leave them alone as they may actually belong to someone in the neighborhood. Do not feed them or else they will not go home. If you find a stray cat that you do not believe is being cared for, the best thing to do is catch it and attempt to find its original family.

Stray cat
A stray cat in Vilnius, Lithuania

The first thing you should do, of course, is check the cat for ID. If it has a collar and tag, call the owner and hope for a happy reunion. You can also take it to a nearby veterinarian’s office to be scanned for a microchip. Many animals are given away or sent to shelters while their owners are desperately looking for them.

Stray cat
A stray cat in Valencia, Spain

If no one claims the cat and you want to keep it, be sure to take it to a veterinarian first for vaccination, neutering, flea treatment and a health checkup – especially if you have other pets. If you are not thinking about taking a stray cat into your home, you can give the cat to a rescue group or shelter where it will be spayed or neutered (if not already done) and adopted to a qualified home.

18 comments

  1. These kitties are so cute! I wish I could adopt them all. They are far too adorable to be living on the streets.

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  2. Trap Neuter Return sounds like a great initiative to keep the pet populations under control. I am leery of stray cats as they can sometimes be kind of vicious. I learned my lesson once when scratched extremely badly on the hand. I now hang back and give them space. Luckily if we ever see any in our neighbourhood my kids know most of the homes they belong to and can quickly snap a photo and tag or DM a friend to say Hey is this your cat? He's in our yard just looking a bit lost. This happened this summer twice with a neighbour's cat actually. Cats can be so full of personality.

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  3. omg how sweet is this- i always wish i could adopt all the poor sweet kitties on the streets- i def learned my lesson a few times when i brought a few strays home and my husband was not happy ha. thanks for sharing this though!

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  4. If I could adopt all the stray cats in the world, I totally would! I have a friend who has nine strays that she took in -- it means a whole lot of housecleaning multiple times a day, but it's worth it!

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  5. Cats are cute. I however, consider myself more of a dog person. Probably because cats make me break out in hives. haha

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  6. I'm not too much of a cat person but they are so beautiful. I love how you captured their beauty!

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  7. This is such a great post and really helpful in educating people like me who don't know what to do whenever we see stray cats.

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  8. What a great initiative to keep the cat population in order. A great educational post for people like me who have no idea what to do when there are strays about.

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  9. Thanks for sharing this helpful information. I didn't realize there were many "stray" vs. feral cats. The photos really contribute to the effectiveness of this post. Makes me want to cuddle them all!

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  10. I adore cats and I tend to keep every last one of them. No matter what. My son volunteers also at a vet clinic. So we have so much fun housing them.

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  11. In Singapore people sometimes prefer calling stray cats "community cats." They are taken care and fed by the community. :)

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  12. This program sounds like a great program! I would love support to have stray cats go to a supportive home!

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  13. I think this is a great concept and I love the fact that you described the difference between feral and stray. Also the concept behind Trap and neuter return is a great one. However, stay cat can also be mean, dangerous, and carry disease (you don't know how long it has been out on it's own) that can spread to your other animals. Which is why it is always recommended animal control should be called to handle the situation instead of an inexperience individual. It is also important to mention that most animal shelters are out of room for kittens or cats because the cat population is out of control.

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  14. I have done rescue for years. I can't tell you how many sick kittens come to me as rescued strays. It's just heartbreaking.

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  15. Vanessa Delia9:35 pm EET

    You couldn't be more correct. People constantly call them feral but I don't think they fully get what that term actually means.

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  16. Stray cats can be adopted but make sure you go to a veterinarian to have them checked. It’s good to be safe because they might be carrying a disease. Make sure they are healthy and clean.

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  17. I love me some kitties! I'll forward this post to friends to pass on this important information.

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  18. I think we have more than 5 stray cats that come to our house to be fed. We just see them walking around the house waiting for food.

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