Feeding a Stray Cats without Cat Food: Despite the tireless efforts of numerous shelters, rescue organizations, and individuals who adopt cats, there are still millions of homeless felines in the United States. Stray cats can often be seen roaming neighborhoods, especially during the mating season. While cat food is the ideal diet for these animals, it’s not always available. This guide provides information on alternative foods to feed stray cats.
The Natural Diet of Cats
Cats are natural predators, and their diet primarily consists of animal-based foods. While humans can consume plant-based foods, cats require animal products like chicken, turkey, tuna, or scrambled eggs. They should not drink milk since they lack the necessary enzymes to digest it.
What to Feed Stray Cats
If you encounter a stray cat, you may provide them with fresh, clean water and regular, high-calorie cat food or canned tuna. Although dry cat food is recommended, it may attract other animals, such as possums, skunks, and raccoons. To prevent this, leave dry cat food out during the day and remove it at night.
Feeding Stray Cats with Human Food
If you don’t have cat food, you can feed stray cats human food instead. Some human foods that are safe for cats include:
- Eggs: Boiled eggs are a rich source of protein and vitamin B.
- Chicken: Cooked chicken is a good option for cats since they are obligate carnivores.
- Turkey: Turkey is a lean meat that is a rich source of protein and makes for a tasty treat for cats.
- Oatmeal: Oatmeal is safe for cats and provides energy and vitamin B.
- Salmon: Cooked salmon, a high source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, is a favorite food of cats.
Other human foods and meals that can be given to stray cats include boiled vegetables, mashed, minced liver, rice, and lentils, baked potatoes with rice, yogurt, rice, and chicken soup, and pumpkin puree and oats.
The Consequences of Feeding Stray Cats
While feeding stray cats may seem like a kind gesture, it can lead to negative consequences. Stray cats may repeatedly visit your house, yard, or grass, become overcrowded, and may be carriers of diseases. It’s likely that once you start feeding stray cats, those cats will bring more cats into your yard, resulting in a larger litter and a faster reproduction rate.
South Miami veterinarian Dr. Patty Khuly suggests having stray cats spayed or neutered if you plan to feed them regularly. Utilizing the Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) programs of regional animal rescue organizations in your area is a good approach to controlling the number of stray cats in the area.
Keeping Stray Cats in Your Yard
If you plan to routinely feed stray cats, you should also keep them in your yard. You might create an outdoor litter box for them to use, and don’t leave any unfinished meals outside. You could also suggest that your neighbors use cat deterrents like lemon peels and pans of vinegar to keep cats away from their homes.
Parasite Infestations and Rabies
Stray cats that have not been taken care of by pet owners may have parasite infestations or even rabies. To have them immunized, dewormed, and treated for fleas, you could ask your neighborhood animal shelter or rescue organization for assistance.
In conclusion, providing food and care for stray cats is a noble act of compassion and kindness. While it may not be feasible to always have cat food available, there are various human foods that can be safely given to cats. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that feeding strays may have unintended consequences and should be done responsibly.
Following the advice of local animal rescue organizations and veterinarians can help ensure that these animals receive the necessary care and attention they require. By taking care of these cats, we not only improve their quality of life but also contribute to a healthier and more compassionate community.
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