HEALTH & CARE

How to Get Rid of Stray Cats: Resisting the Urge to be a Good Samaritan

group of stray cats
Stella Noble
Written by Stella Noble

Stray cats are cats that were once under human care but for one reason or another found themselves away from home. Acquainting yourself with information on how to get rid of stray cats may sound inhumane, but it doesn’t have to be.

You can get rid of them while helping them at the same time—such as by finding a new home for them. While these cats can once again become pets, proper procedures would be required to ensure that this is done properly. Don’t get rid of the strays blindly. Knowing a thing or two about them will help you make better decisions. We will give you more than that.

We have prepared information that will not only dispel your doubts but also keep you informed on everything concerning stray cats. We will also take you through the reasons why getting rid of strays is in your best interest and how to get rid of stray cats around your house.

How Do Cats End Up Being Strays?

stray cat sitting

It is not uncommon to find a stray cat in your neighborhood or at your door. Sometimes the fluffy stranger will approach you in the park looking to be fed. In some instances, these cats will be injured or sickly.

These encounters make you wonder who and where their owners are. Before you pass judgment on who is responsible for the situation, below are some of the reasons and factors that usually lead to house cats becoming strays.

Cause #1: They are Chased Away by Other Animals

Bullying is a familiar occurrence in a household with many animals. Dogs, if left unchecked, can harass a cat and even chase him away. Cats that find themselves in these situations will be traumatized and will choose to stay on the streets instead of returning home.

See Also: How to Get a Dog and Cat to Get Along

Cause #2: They Got Lost

cat got lost

‘Curiosity killed the cat.’ This phrase has been used to describe the inquisitive nature of cats. The need to discover new things and places often leads to them entering open moving vans, garbage trucks, and even hitching a ride on the school bus. During the ride, they will stay quiet due to fear and may alight at any stop. Then they won’t be able to find their way home.

See Also: How to Find a Missing Cat

Cause #3: They are Exposed to Unfriendly Environment

Not everyone loves or is sympathetic to cats. Neighbors who abhor a cat may beat him up—causing him to run away. The same people may also dump him in an unfamiliar place where he can’t find his way back home

Some landlords who do not entertain the notion of having cats in their buildings have also been known to chase them away. It could also be due to unfortunate circumstances like a late discovery of cat allergy.

See Also: Hypoallergenic Cat Breeds

How to Identify a Stray Cat

very dirty stray cat

Stray cats are sometimes confused with feral cats. They are similar, save for the way they interact with humans. Feral cats are often very scared of humans and won’t tolerate any contact. Strays, however, used to live with humans. So they are more accepting.

See Also: How to Tame a Feral Cat

Knowing how to identify a stray cat will inform you of whether or how to interact with him. This will also help you decide on the kind of intervention necessary. Here are the characteristics to look out for.

  • He may have a collar with his owner’s information on it

  • He approaches people, cars, and houses

  • He will most likely be alone, not mingling with other cats

  • He will be dirty and unkempt

  • He will make his presence known mostly during the day

  • He responds to your calls

  • He will show interest in toys thrown to him

  • He starts relaxing in your presence with time

  • After a while, he may rub himself against you or even allow you to pet him

Why Get Rid of Stray Cats?

many stray cats on bench

The sight of dead a cat on the road is enough to drive you over the edge. What about the dangers of having to swerve on the road to avoid hitting one? Letting them roam free isn’t as harmless as you might have imagined. As you ponder that, we will take you through some other reasons why getting rid of strays is good for you and the community at large.

Reason #1: To Discourage the Spread of Diseases

The home environment provides quarantine-like conditions for your cat and other pets. This is not true for the strays that are exposed to the harsh outdoors. The strays can catch and spread diseases to each other.

While vaccination is recommended for all cats, not all owners abide by the practice. If such an unvaccinated cat finds himself on the streets, it’s only a matter of time before he becomes infected with diseases such as feline leukemia, FIV, and rabies.

Rabies is highly communicable to humans and other pets. This viral disease is fatal with death occurring within 2 to 10 days after the symptomatic stage. A rabid animal will go ‘wild’ and attack anything or anyone in sight. The saliva from one bite contains enough viruses to transmit the disease.

See Also: How Do You Know If a Cat Has Rabies

Apart from these viral diseases, stray cats are good at spreading ticks, lice, and fleas. These parasites are carried in their hair and skin. Not only are they difficult to get rid of, but they pose health risks to you and your loved ones.

See Also: How to Remove a Tick From a Cat

Reason #2: They Attack People and Pets

agressive stray cat

After 12 weeks of age, kittens that do not get the chance to be familiar with humans will develop fear towards them. The lack of contact with humans leads to aggressive behavior.

See Also: How to Socialize a Cat

The intrinsic nature to mark their territory will also lead them into attacking anything that tries to approach them—including other cats. Most strays will camp near homes to scrounge for food. This may result in territorial fights with your indoor pets that may occasionally venture outside.

Reason #3: They are a Threat to the Wildlife

Cats are carnivorous by nature and will use any available opportunity to hunt. Stray cats prey on birds, lizards, fish, frogs, and even snakes. They will prey on birds that build their nests on or near the ground and also eat the eggs. Just like the big cats in the wild, stray cats will kill and store their prey to eat later.

To put this into figures, stray and feral cats are responsible for the extinction of approximately 33 species of birds globally. They have also increased the mortality rate of small mammals—leading to their deaths in millions annually.

Reason #4: To Reduce Their Population

Cats have a gestation period of only two months. This gives them the ability to increase their numbers in an uncontrolled environment greatly.

The females can give birth to a litter of up to 10 kittens. A female stray can produce up to three litters annually. It has been postulated that a pair of mating stray cats can create a colony of 400,000 members in a seven-year period. The government or agencies involved in animal control find themselves in budget constraints from increasing stray cats. They just can’t keep up.

This kind of population growth, if left unchecked, will lead to psychological torture from seeing dying kittens and visible unsightly injuries in adults. Scores of abandoned kittens will be all over dumpsters, attics, and any other conceivable hiding places.

Reason #5: For Your Own Peace of Mind

stray cats fighting

Strays don’t have to be in the hundreds to disturb you. A lonely aggressive stray in your jogging trail is enough to make you change the route.

Territorial fights and mating sessions are loud. Unneutered males have urine with a very strong odor which they will generously spray to mark their territory.

See Also: How to Stop a Cat From Spraying

The strays do not discriminate and will mate with your house cat if the chance presents itself—leading to uncontrolled breeding.

How to Get Rid of Stray Cats around Your House

Stray cats are found in certain locations for a vast number of reasons. If they are not looking for the comfort of a home and the companionship of human beings, they are probably looking for food or following a vermin trail they picked up along the way.

These reasons notwithstanding, if you do not get rid of them, you may find yourself dealing with more than one of the above problems. Here are some tried and tested ways to deal with stray cats.

Method #1: Deny Them Food, Water, and Shelter

food leftover for stray cats

If you make food and water available, stray cats will have a reason to come back again and again. In fact, they will spread the good news and bring others along.

Ensure that you do not leave any leftover cat or dog food in dishes outside your home. Repair any leaky pipes and cover depressions in the ground so that water does not collect in them.

Trash cans could also be good sources of food for stray cats. Keeping them tightly covered will keep the cats from scrounging the trash for food. The trash should also be put in lockable areas.

If you are the kind that feeds birds, they can easily fall prey to the cats. You can try to place the bird feeders in an open space and at least 10 feet away from places that the cats can hide in.

Remove unused equipment, boxes, and any stuff that may offer shelter to the strays or rodents. Clear overgrown grass or foliage and use other vermin control measures get rid of rodents that might attract the strays.

Method #2: Frighten Them Away in Non-Harmful Ways

Frightened stray cat running away

Do you have a sprinkler? Well, it might be helpful in more ways than one. Cats don’t like being sprayed with water. In fact, a spray bottle filled with water has been known to discourage cats from repeating certain behaviors.

See Also: How to Discipline a Cat

A motion-sensing sprinkler might be just what you need to keep the strays off your premises. The motion sensors should be pointed towards areas where they will not be triggered by people or cars.

Dogs can also be used to frighten them. However, the dogs should only be placed in fenced off areas like the backyards so that they do not attack the cats. Other non-harmful methods include clapping, yelling, and using a garden hose—but they all require your availability.

Method #3: Use Repellents

Surprisingly enough, some of the scents most loved by mankind end up on cats’ hate list. Citrus, lavender, eucalyptus, and citronella scents literally repel them. To maximize this, you can litter the areas that they frequent with fresh orange or lemon peels. You can also spray the areas with substances scented with the above essences.

See Also: DIY Cat Repellent

Another trick is to use predator urine sprays. Coyote and fox urine are considered great repellents. There is a downside to this method, however. It might not be very effective in an area that rains a lot or during the rainy season.

Other chemical repellents available in the market include methyl nonyl ketone, thymol, and benzyl diethyl methyl ammonium saccharide (BMAS). Whichever repellent you choose should be sprayed around gardens, flower beds, and landscaped areas.

Ultrasonic cat repellents are also available in the market. For all these products, instructions on the labels should be carefully followed for a proper and safe application.

Method #4: Keep Them Out of Your Premises

Fences and netting can be used to keep stray cats off your premises. The fence should be at least 6 feet tall. Mesh screens should be used to seal off areas that can be used as entry points. Mesh wires placed perpendicular to the walls and gutters can prevent cats from accessing your compound.

Windows and doors are also easy entry points. You should keep them closed or put mesh on them if you need to keep them open. Barbs along the ledge or in areas that the cats may be using as latrines are also great deterrents.

Method #5: Trap the Cat

stray cat got in trap

It is not advisable to handle any foreign cat without precaution. This is because some cats can be violent to an extent. Also, bites and scratches from sick cats can be really dangerous. This is where the trap comes in. Use a trap that is specifically made for cats. Ideally, there should be a trap for each cat depending on your target number.

The traps should be placed in areas that strays will go to without fear. The area should be flat and stable. Food-based baits should be used to attract the cats into the traps. Note that the smell can attract other animals such as opossums and raccoons besides striped skunks.

Once the cat is trapped, you should not handle him until he has at least been checked by a vet. Transport him while he is still in the cage. Drape a blanket over the trap to protect the cat from the elements; we don’t want to be cruel. It also protects you from sprays just in case the trap takes in a skunk.

Method #6: Make an Effort to Reunite the Cat with His Owner

If the cat seems friendly and enjoys being petted, he is most probably a house cat that has lost his way. You can ask around your neighborhood if anyone has lost a cat fitting this particular cat’s description.

Pet shops, local vet clinics, and online forums are places where someone would report a missing cat. You can reach out to them with information about the cat. A picture will also go a long way. If the efforts are futile, taking him to an animal shelter will give him a shot at being adopted.

Method #7: Take the Cat In

taking stray cat home

If you somehow develop a soft spot for a stray, offering him the home that he requires would take one cat off the street. However, proper procedure should be taken to ensure that the adoption is properly done.

This includes ensuring that nobody is missing him, having him checked out and treated by a vet for any existing diseases or parasites, and getting him acquainted with the new environment.

See Also: How to Adopt a Cat

Method #8: Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Release (TNVR)

vaccinating stray cat

With an overwhelming increase in the number of stray and feral cats, the TNRV is meant to curb the population. It involves catching the strays, neutering the un-neutered, vaccinating them, and releasing them back at the point of their capture. This procedure is commonly done by vets, the humane society, private individuals, and government agencies.

Returning them to their original place reduces the chances of them getting into territorial fights with other stray and feral cats. While this does not reduce their number, it controls their breeding.

Method #9: Euthanasia

Sometimes, the numbers of stray cats are more than animal shelters can hold. With rising concerns about the effectiveness of TNVR, some of the sickly, old and un-adopted stray cats end up being euthanized.

Proper euthanasia procedure should be reliable, painless, and should not cause fear or distress to the animal. This answers the question on how to get rid of stray cats permanently.

Wrap Up

stray orange kitten sleeping outside

Cats that were once healthy, adorable, and owned could end up becoming strays once they’ve lost their family for whatever reason. They can be easily identified by their attraction to human company. Interaction with such cats may lead to a host of problems. Some of these problems are diseases, attacks on other pets and wildlife, and overpopulation.

While some methods used to control strays may be brutal and violent, there are many humane ways to do the same. You can remove attractions such as food, water, and potential hiding places. Without causing them any harm, you can repel, scare, or lock them out.

You can also use recommended traps. Upon successful trapping, you can take them to animal shelters, follow proper procedure to adopt or have them neutered, vaccinated, or released.

If you agree with us, let us know by giving us your feedback. Have you had any experience with strays? We would love to hear about it. If you have any other comments, feel free to write them below. If you don’t want to get rid of stray cats but would rather help them, check out this article on how to build outdoor shelters for them.

About the author
Stella Noble
Stella Noble

Stella Noble lives in Warren, Michigan with her family and three cats. She is a Certified Cat Trainer and a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.

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