A ray of hope for your rescued feline family!

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Nitya Ramachandran
Bringing home a new pet is a big step that requires careful planning and consideration. You need to make sure that you are well prepared to take on the responsibility.
 
Getting home a new feline friend is so exciting, but make sure you are fully prepped up to be a responsible pet parent. Whether you wish to adopt a rescued stray cat from a shelter or pick up a lost one from the street, there are a few factors you need to consider to ensure a smooth adoption process.
 
Rock the research
Before bringing home a stray cat, do your research on the amount of time and effort you would need to dedicate. Although cats might seem aloof, they are social animals who need lots of affection from their human companions. If you’re out most of the day and don’t have family members to take care of the cat in your absence, do not go ahead with the adoption.
 
Plan your expenses
Just like with a baby, a pet also brings some expenses like medical bills, cat food, and other supplies. Be realistic in your assessment of your spending capacity. Make sure you are financially prepared for any eventuality like a sudden health concern, accidents, and hiring a pet sitter to look after your cat while you’re away holidaying.
 
Opt to adopt
Adopt a rescued stray cat from a shelter or the street— give compassion, love and shelter to your feline family.
 
Differentiate between stray and feral cats
Determining whether the cat you intend to adopt is stray or feral could make your job easier. Feral cats are those who have had minimal contact with humans and can be wary of people. Because they have never been domesticated or socialised, they are not likely to ever make good indoor pets. On the other hand, stray cats were socialised or domesticated at some point in their lives and are comfortable around humans.
 
Leave feral cats alone
If you’ve concluded that the cat you intend to take home is a feral one, you might want to leave her alone and let her be, provided she is healthy. You can make provisions for food and water bowls for her outdoors to ensure that she has good chances of survival. If she looks sick, contact an animal welfare organisation for tips on how to help her.
 
Don’t rush or overwhelm her
If, however, you’ve determined that the cat is a stray, don’t rush the befriending process. Stray cats can initially be scared of humans and most likely will not allow you to get close. Keep your interactions non-threatening and relaxed so that she feels safe around you. Give her the time and space to approach you on her terms.
 
Earn trust through food
It is possible to lure a stray cat into being domesticated through the strategic use of food. Leave food in a bowl outside. Move away so that the cat can come forward and eat without feeling anxious or fearful. Do this every day at the same time so that she learns to associate you with a stable supply of food. Entice her with tempting treats and build a bond.
 
Do try to find pet parent
A cat who looks reasonably well-fed and clean has likely been taken care of by someone. To make sure that you’re not accidentally taking home someone’s lost pet, check the cat for a collar or a tag to see if you can find any contact details. Ask your neighbours, post photos and details of the cat on social media pages, put up posters, and contact the local animal shelters. Get her scanned for a microchip ID at the local vet.
 
Stock up on the essentials
Set up a litter box, a food bowl and a water bowl for the cat in an easily accessible spot. These are the things your stray cat is going to use first when she gets home. If you’ve adopted a stray cat from a shelter, continue feeding her whatever she was being fed there for the initial few days to ease her into home-cooked meals. Put a layer of dirt over the litter box as stray cats are used to eliminating on the dirt.
 
Make home introductions gradual
Understand that stray cats need time to adjust to an indoor lifestyle. To ease your cat into your home, start by keeping her contained in a single room with food and water bowls and a litter box. Spend time with her in the room daily. It will help her feel safe as she gets accustomed to her new environment. Be patient with her as she undergoes the transition from being a stray to being an indoor cat.
 
Provide hiding spaces
Cats prefer hiding in small spaces when they’re scared. To prevent the stray cat from feeling nervous in her new surroundings, make provisions for a few quiet hiding spots around the house, such as empty cardboard boxes or a cozy blanket draped over a chair.
 
Don’t let her go outdoors
Stray cats are used to have all the space they want are more likely to settle into an indoor way of life if you keep them completely contained during the settling-in period, which might take a couple of months. Prevent them from going outside lest they run away, get lost or hurt.
 
Provide stimulating indoor experiences
Stray cats have exposure to several visual and auditory stimuli in the outdoors. You need to make special efforts to ensure that the indoors are just as stimulating. You can achieve this by adding plenty of distractions such as cardboard boxes with holes, toys, multi-layered perches, multiple scratching surfaces, etc.
 
Schedule an appointment with vet
Keep your stray cat away from other pets at home until your vet performs a thorough health scan on her and gives a clean chit. You have no idea how long the cat has lived like a stray and what kind of parasitic infections or contagious diseases she might have. If you’re adopting a female cat, ask your vet to check if she might be pregnant.
 
Introduce her to other pets slowly
Go slow when attempting to introduce your newly adopted stray cat to other pets at home. To ensure the safety of all animals, allow your resident pets and the newly adopted stray cat to see each other through a mesh door or a crate. Depending on the temperament of the animals involved, this can take up a lot of time. Do not rush the process.
Spay/neuter and microchip
Get your cats spayed or neutered so that there are no accidental pregnancies or impregnations. Spaying and neutering will also reduce your cat’s tendency to roam and fight. Get your cat micro-chipped as well.

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