Q: I have been feeding a stray cat. She is friendly and I want to bring her inside. How can I do that safely?
A: I think it is wonderful that you want to adopt your stray. Unfortunately many strays are actually abandoned cats. If you are able to get close enough to feed or touch her without her running away, she probably belonged to someone and was either abandoned or lost because she had no ID tag.
Once while I was walking my dog in the early morning I spotted a white cat huddled in a grassy area near my building. Next to him was an open can of tuna. It was a very sad sight — someone had obviously left him. I did not want to attempt to pick him up without a cat carrier so I raced home, dropped off my dog and got a carrier, praying he would still be there when I returned. Thankfully, no one had frightened him away and I quietly got down beside him. Once I realized he was willing to be petted, I picked him up and put him inside the carrier — with a heavy pair of gloves on just in case.
I put him in my bathroom, away from my other cats, and made sure he had food, water and litter. Then I called my vet. It very clear he wasn’t neutered because when I returned to the bathroom, it smelled of pungent male urine. This might have been why he was abandoned. I will say to all readers, cats do not have to be abandoned. Kittens are adorable but as they grow up, sometimes people don’t want to spend the money for neutering. Please know that there are low-cost spay and neuter clinics and rescue groups can help you find good homes. Meanwhile, my white rescue, now named Snowball, checked out fine, was neutered and ended up in a good home.
The first thing you must do when adopting a stray is make an appointment with your vet. She must be checked for diseases, parasites and other illnesses. If you have other cats, keep your new cat separate until she is checked out and she feels safe to be around them (and vice versa). Set up a “safe” room with food, water, litter and toys until you know her personality well enough to give her the run of the house unsupervised. With love and patience, you will earn her trust and know you did a wonderful thing. As always, I welcome your stories and comments.