Fast forward to a little over a week ago when that kitty up there ^^ roamed up our driveway straight into Eric's cat loving heart. It didn't help that she was a "tortie" which happens to be his favourite kind of kitty. She was underweight, clearly starving and probably dying of thirst (quite literally) with this heatwave. So we've been feeding her and giving her pets. She's super friendly and affectionate once she gets past the initial fear. She's a talker too, which I love. She's got some battle scars so we've been worried about her. Thank goodness one of my best friends happens to be a vet tech so, like usual, I called upon her expertise and help.
Today, LB took Sputnik (as Eric has taken to calling her) to her work with her and had the vet check her over. She was tested for Feline leukemia and HIV, thankfully she was negative to both. She was treated for ear mites and fleas, microchipped, vaccinated for rabies and given antibiotics for an eye infection. She was just about to go under the knife for a spaying but it was discovered that she was already fixed. What? That means she's someone's kitty yet I haven't seen any posters up or anything. I can't believe someone would just dump a cat. That breaks my heart. Anyway, we've agreed to foster her for the time being so someone is around to give her her meds on a regular basis and get her used to living in a home, other people, cats, etc. We're secretly hoping she's going to adapt to the other three cats and if so, then we can outright adopt her. However, if she doesn't we aren't on the hook to find her a home on our own. She will be returned to LB's work and they'll adopt her out. Win-win!
So I guess the point of my story there is to bring me to the controversial subject of whether or not it's good to feed stray cats. The opinions probably sit around 50/50.
I believe the answer is yes, of course it's a good idea. That poor cat didn't choose to live out on the streets and be a rebel. It was dealt that hand and any help to give it some fighting chance isn't a bad thing. I've learned recently how important it is for cats to eat and drink with frequency or their liver starts to shut down. I can't imagine living on infrequent meals from a garbage can or the odd mouse or bird is beneficial and during the winter those options minimize even more. I would think most stray cats are suffering from starvation.
I understand there are several different reasons someone might be hesitant to feed a stray. One fear is that they'll continuously procreate. Well just because they have a full belly doesn't make them more inclined to find a tomcat and "do it". It's called animal instinct for a reason, regardless if they are hungry or not. You feeding a hungry, scared cat isn't going to drive them into the
Sometimes people hesitate to feed a stray because they fear the cat will never leave. This is probably true, but who cares?? Are you that insensitive and yucky that a kitty won't make you smile? Cat food costs so little in the big picture. I get that you don't or won't want to take on the expenses of maintaining a cat with a vet, but just to put some food out each day? Really? That's hard? Think about the difference you'd be making in that cat's life.
People might worry about attracting other wildlife by feeding these cats and that could also be true too if you leave the food out over night. My suggestion is to merely bring the food and water dish in during the night. Simple as that.
I guess one of the biggest drawbacks to feeding a stray is that your neighbours often won't be on board with you. We're quite lucky in our neighbourhood. Everyone around us seems to love cats as well. Last summer our neighbour across the street was feeding a stray and eventually found him a forever home. So that's not a huge concern to me. And frankly if that's all your neighbours have to complain about regarding you and your household, then they can suck it up. You could be doing far worse things.
My hope is if you see a kitty who is clearly in need, take time out of your day to try to win its trust. Put some food out for him. Talk in soothing tones. Sit quietly with patience and maybe he'll approach you and allow you to show it some compassion. Once you've acquired his trust, you'll be in a better position to capture him and take him to your local shelter where he will hopefully be adopted out to a forever home.
There are so many other species sharing this world with us. We happen to be the dominant one so why shouldn't we do our best to make things easier for the others? If you see a dog wandering free, do it a favour and call the local humane society to come pick him up before he is hit by a car. Animals do quite well on their own for the most part, but we live in a part of the world with dramatic weather changes and sometimes it's just too hot or cold to be subjected to the elements. As the 'smartest' inhabitants on this planet, lets do our part!