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5 Tips for Helping Stray and Feral Cats During Summer

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Helping Your Neighborhood Cats

By Jaime Lynn Smith


How can you help the estimated tens of millions of homeless and feral cats around the country — especially when the "dog days" of summer creep in?


First, let's make a distinction: a feral cat is born and raised wild, while a stray cat may have had a home at some point and is now homeless. Therefore, stray cats may seem easier to get along than their wilder counterparts. Feeding feral cats is okay — just don’t expect them to get all lovey-dovey with you in return.


Here, then, are few essentials for helping homeless cats.

1. Water Source

Placing bowls or containers of water in areas that will remain cool throughout the day. Water evaporates very quickly in 90- to 100-degree summer heat, so keep bowls out of the sun. Additionally, a bowl with less surface area will reduce the evaporation rate, so use a bowl that is narrow, but deep.

2. Food Source

Dry food, wet food, chicken pieces, kibble, tuna, tuna juice leftover from your tuna salad — whatever you opt to put out, it will get surely get eaten. Maintain clean and neat feeding locations, and keep the food dishes in one place to facilitate cleanup by using a feeding station. Check out Alley Cat Allies’s online plans for building one.

3. A Place for Shade

Try to provide a cool and shady spot in which the cats can rest. It’s been said that covering an area from the daytime sun can cool it down by over ten degrees. On those blistering summer days and muggy nights, a covered or canopied area will be a great blessing for feral and/or stray cats.

4. Providing Medicine

If you can get ahold of the stray or feral cat, it’s important to take it to a veterinarian for spay/neuter, vaccinations, flea treatment, and any other needed medical care — especially if you can afford it. If you cannot afford it, look for help from local non-profits that deal with homeless cats. You can find community non-profits for cats on Petfinder.com.

5. Watch for Heat Stroke

It is possible for a cat to die from heat stroke when confined in a Trap Neuter Release (TNR) trap for too long. A simple guideline to follow: If it’s hot outside for you, it's hot out for the cats, too. Make sure the stray or feral cats don’t remain in their traps for too long by making their neuter appointments for directly after your trapping.


For more information and more tips on helping stray and feral cats in the summertime, and for guidelines on feeding feral cats, visit the ASPCA’s Feral Cat Information Page.


Comments  2

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  • Cat wll not let me sleep.
    08/24/2016 03:34pm

    My 7 year old recuse cat has been with us for 2 weeks. He wakes me up around 2-3am. He meows and touch my face until i finely get up around 7:00am. Help!!

  • 10/22/2016 02:55am

    We have to remember that cats are nocturnal animals. He is used to having other cats for company at night, He is trying to wake you up because he is lonesome. Make sure there is plenty of food and water left out for him at night, and that he has a variety of toys. Also leave a radio on so his night will not be so silent. A nice easy listening station, with occasional voice input. They are all different. One cat we had for 18 yrs, was used to hearing the radio at night. If we forgot to turn it on, which we did only once, she'd come and wake us up to do it. It was 2:30 a.m. After it was turned on, she went off to her own interests. Another would sit in the front window in summer, & other outdoor friends would come to visit. She was, as all of our cats, an indoor cat. The windows were always open throughout the summer. So she could sit there, and they got the habit of coming to see her at night. At 1,& 2 a.m. they'd be talking to each other in grunts and meows. I could only imagine what they could be saying.Another was also a rescue cat, and he would be up all night. At exactly 2:30 a.m. he'd come, sit in the hallway, & call for me to play with him, which I did, for 1/2 hr. to 45 min., with his toys, & whatever games I knew he enjoyed. It ended with some kind of kitty treats, fresh food, [wet and dry], and water. Sometimes he followed me to bed, and played with our feet until we went to sleep, Then he'd curl up & sleep, at the bottom of the bed, or leave. We always left the radio on for all of our cats at night. It helps break the silence, & makes them think there's someone else around.