It is only natural to desire to care for stray cats that frequently visit your home. It can be easy to just leave an extra can of cat food outside if a cat shows up at your back door. What food should you provide a stray cat you are feeding? How can you care for stray animals and stop food from going bad without upsetting your neighbors?
You should be aware of the following:
What Kind of Food Is Good for a Stray Cat?
Feeding stray cats can need more work than simply leaving out a bowl of dry kibble or a plate of canned food. Alley Cat Allies states that the majority of adult cats consume 5.5 ounces of canned food and 2 ounces of dry food each day, even though it may be difficult to discern whether a stray cat is senior or an adult. If you only give your adult cat dry food, it will consume about 1/2 C of it each day. Kittens should be fed food made for kittens since they may require more food each day after weaning from mother’s milk.
Whether you choose to feed your cat dry food or wet food depends on the season and weather where you live.
Food in cans may spoil more quickly in the summer when it’s hot and muggy outside. Dry food is less prone to attract bugs in the heat, although wet food may dry up more rapidly. In these weather, if you opt to serve canned food, make sure to give it extra water to prevent drying out and remove any leftovers after 30 minutes. After 30 to 45 minutes, dry food that hasn’t been eaten should be recovered. Unfinished food should be picked up so that vermin and/or wildlife are deterred from accessing it and so that stray cats won’t accidently devour spoiled food.
There are also dedicated ant-proof feeding stations and bowls that can be a smart purchase in warmer climates. Alternately, you might scatter a thin layer of baking soda or diatomaceous earth around the food (and water) bowls. Contrary to popular opinion, ants won’t get past this obstruction.
Cats may require a little more food to maintain their energy levels during the winter. Even if there are no bugs to be concerned about, it is still advisable to collect any leftover food to keep animals away and prevent the food from freezing. To prevent freezing, electric warming bowls are also an option. These could be especially useful as a source of water for stray cats.
What is the ideal location to feed stray cats?
Cats are habit-forming animals. They will go back to the same spot at the same time if they previously found food and water there. Alley Cat Allies recommends feeding stray cats as far away from congested roads or close neighbors as is practical while still being covertly close to your home. Making feeding stations can shield the water and food from the elements. A plastic storage container with a hole cut into the side could serve as a simple feeding station. If food and water dishes are placed on ledges, benches, fences, etc., a terrified, timid stray cat may feel more secure. Additionally, cats frequently feel safer when they are higher up.
Feed stray cats during the day at the same time(s) every day, if at all possible. You can help prevent other animals from eating the food intended for the cat(s) by offering it throughout the day. As the end of daylight savings draws near, feeding stray cats 10 minutes earlier or later, depending on whether it’s spring or fall, may make the time change easier for them.
If you start feeding a stray female cat and she has young, you shouldn’t worry that she would abandon them. Even if you don’t see her, she won’t leave her kittens even if she isn’t immediately friendly with you.
Some people may have strong feelings about cat feeding. Some homeowners associations (HOAs) might forbid it, and not all neighbors might approve of harboring feral cats on one’s property. However, giving stray cats food can make them feel more comfortable around you and allow you to monitor their health. Giving stray cats food might also make it easier to catch them for vaccinations, which are necessary for their long-term care, and neutering/spaying, which is essential for keeping the neighborhood cat population under control.