If you encounter a stray or feral cat, you might feel threatened and scared it is going to attack you, particularly if it is hissing at you. It is natural to wonder if stray cats attack, and while some may if they feel threatened by you, most would rather retreat.
Before thinking about whether you are going to be attacked or not, it is worth remembering that there is a big difference between stray and feral cats. Stray cats tend to be cats that are either lost or have been abandoned. They have once had a home with humans and are therefore likely to be more trusting than a feral cat that has been born and bred in the wild and has had little to no human contact. For the purpose of this blog post, we will be talking about stray cats and not feral cats.
Are Stray Cats Dangerous?
As we have already stated, stray cats have had contact with humans in the past and are usually quite shy. However, you should remember that stray cats could have been living wild for some time and might not want to be touched. They may have been mistreated by their human owners in the past, which could mean that they are wary of you.
Stray cats are generally not dangerous, but you should proceed with caution if you find one near your home; at least until you are more sure of its nature. Also bear in mind that if the cat has been living in the wild for some time and has not been taken to a vet for vaccinations, there is a good chance it could be carrying some sort of disease or other.
Cats can carry diseases such as rabies if they have not been vaccinated. This is why, initially at least, you should remain cautious and vigilant. You can tell if rabies has infected a cat as it will be aggressive and could be foaming at the mouth. If you do see a stray cat near your home and suspect it could have rabies, call your local animal rescue center and inform them right away.
What to Do with a Stray Cat
If you are a cat lover, your natural instinct will be to help. To this end, there is much that you can do. You could feed the cat to build up a level of trust. You do not have to rush out to your local store or pet store though as cats will eat a variety of foods you are likely to have in your home already.
For example, you can cut up deli meats or give some lean chicken, beef or turkey. Surprisingly, cats will also eat things such as cheese and eggs. You can also give canned fish such as salmon or tuna if you have any in your cupboard.
Know though that milk is not a good choice for cats. This is because it contains lactose, which can cause vomiting or diarrhea in the animal. It is best to offer stray cats a bowl of water to drink instead.
When you have built up a level of trust, you might be able to get the cat into a cat box and take it to your local vet to be checked over (and checked for a microchip). It could be the case that the cat was lost, and its owners have been looking for it.
If there is no microchip and you cannot find any information about owners searching for a lost cat, you can either keep the cat and take care of it yourself or ask a local shelter to take it in. The only problem with cat rescue centers and shelters is the fact that most are full to capacity.
Indeed, stray cats are a problem in most countries, and there is a distinct lack of resources in terms of finding homes for them. To try and tackle the problem of stray cats, rescue centers often run trap, neuter, release programs (TNR).
Neutering and spaying both stray and feral cats helps to reduce the number of males being attracted to areas where there are female cats. It also means that the female cannot be impregnated, thus reducing the number of litters born in the wild. Cats that are brought to shelters and rescue centers are also usually vaccinated, which helps to reduce the spread of disease.
Keeping a Stray Cat
If you want to offer a stray cat a home, remember that it will need food, warmth, and love. If you can provide these three things, you will not need to do much else.
Your stray may have had a bad experience with humans in the past, so it may take time before it feels comfortable in your home. You will need to be patient. Once your new pet starts to feel more comfortable in his or her surroundings, you will find that it starts to seek human contact more and more.
Try not to force the cat to socialize with you and your family members as it will do this in its own time. To help the cat feel more relaxed, you could make sure there are a few safe hiding spaces available. This could be behind the sofa or under a bed. While the cat is getting to grips with its new home, try to keep loud noises to a minimum.
Finally, if you are considering adopting a stray cat, remember that it is a big commitment. You will need to be patient and put in the effort of making your home warm and welcoming for your new pet.