Sometimes you see a cat out and about and it’s difficult to tell whether it is a stray – or just enjoying its freedom prowling around.
Usually you can tell a stray as it looks unkempt. “Their fur is often dirty, their eyes may be gluey and they are thin and often pretty shy, ” says Sarah Ross who works for a German animal welfare organisation, Vier Pfoten.
If you’re sure that the cat doesn’t have an owner, then there are a couple of ways you can help the animal – and that doesn’t mean taking it home with you to keep.
If you find a stray cat, you should register it at the nearest animal shelter, and you can bring the cat there yourself, if it’s tame enough.
The shelter takes in the cat and cares for it and if an owner doesn’t get in touch at some point, then it can be adopted.
But if the cat is very shy, just let the shelter know where you saw it. Experienced helpers will go ahead and catch it, and give it any necessary medical care.
“It may take time to register a cat but the cat isn’t the only one to benefit, ” says Ross, an expert.
The cat is likely to be neutered, too. Otherwise, if cats have a litter twice a year, that can create up to 12,000 cats over a period of five years.
“Neutering stray cats prevents a lot of suffering, ” Ross says. It means females don’t have offspring that they have to take care of, while tom cats don’t get into territorial fights. Cats that are neutered have more strength and energy for life on the streets.
At the shelter, if the cat is too fearful of people, it is usually released after receiving medical attention.
If you want to take care of the cat, you could set out a place for food as cats that are well-nourished fall ill less frequently.
But do be aware of what that may lead to, as cats usually get used to being fed regularly pretty quickly.
So if you’re going to feed a cat, be prepared to do so in the long term, Ross says.
You could also give the animal some care and support in the form of a hut to protect them from the elements.
You can take a polystyrene box, cut a hole for the entrance, and make it cosy with some straw on the ground. – dpa
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