Today I heard a cat fight just outside my front window. This caused my dog and cat to begin frantically clawing at the door, wanting to get out in the action. My dog, for her part, had her hackles all raised and was kicking at the air like a bull about to do battle with a matador, barking and farting in tandem. My hero.
A few minutes after the fighting ceased and my house was quiet again, I heard another commotion at the front door that drew the attention of my pets once again- a small kitten’s mew of distress. Oh, goodness. A kitten at my door begging for help. What do I do? Here is how to handle a stray cat at your doorstep when you just don’t know what to do.
Ignore it. Yes, this sounds cruel, but unless you are willing to take the critter in yourself, encouraging them by going outside to see what the matter is will only make things worse. I ignored the meowing at my door, and within moments the meowing stopped. I opened the door and neither my dog, my cat, nor I could find any sign of a cat whatsoever. A cat will eventually wander off (even a kitten) if their calls for help go unnoticed.
If you simply cannot ignore the sounds outside, or if the cat (or kitten) continues to bother your household for more than a few hours, check out the situation, but by all means, once again, unless you are willing to bring the animal inside and care for it yourself, don’t pick up the animal, pet it, or feed it. Once you place out a bowl of even water for the animal, they will linger. Don’t encourage the behavior if you want the animal to leave.
If the cat appears to be hurt, you can take them into your local vet as a stray and have them either care for the animal and place them in a proper home, or humanly euthanize the cat or kitten. Often, stray animals become projects for interns to practice their skills on and make calls for health on. These animals often become blood donor animals that live at the clinic full time, greeting clients and being able to be used for blood donations for emergencies of other animals. Sometimes, taking and leaving a wounded stray at the vet is the best way to give them a chance at life (I wouldn’t recommend taking ALL strays to the vet though- this is just costly for the vet clinics, and they will often turn animals away unless you are willing to pay costs).
Call the pound, or take the cat or kitten to the pound if you can catch them. Yes, again, this sounds cruel, but if the animal won’t leave you alone and you don’t want to take in a stray, then what other option do you really have? What sounds worse- ignoring a stray cat that is yowling all day for food and shelter, or taking them to the pound as a stray where they will at the very worst be put out of their misery? As an animal lover, I hate facing this dilemma myself, but when a bothersome stray is involved that I’m not in a situation to keep, it can be the most humane thing you can do.
If against all precaution, you take the animal in and now it has become attached to you, you have two options. You can keep the cat or kitten yourself, or you can hope to find the critter a good home. If the cat has a sickness that can spread to your other cats, then I wouldn’t recommend bringing the animal in no matter how much it begs. However, if you’ve already brought in and cared for the feline, you are now responsible for its well being. If you can’t keep it, you better start looking around for a good home for it.
I would say the best thing to do is ignore a stray cat or kitten in the hopes that it will wander off. Had I answered the kittens mewing, then I know I would have brought the kitten inside, and we would have been left caring for it. Luckily, it left as soon as it arrived, and I checked my garbage cans and dog dishes to make sure there was no food to tempt the kitten to return. A stray will eventually find survival elsewhere if it does not get a response from you, and if not, you have a few options to entertain (however unfavorable) to take care of a stray cat or kitten you just don’t want around.