Cat Hunting Behavior

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Years ago my aunt, a huge animal lover, started to receive late night visits from a gorgeous ginger stray cat. Due to disgusting abuse by his previous owners he had no teeth or claws left and was very under nourished and extremely frightened. My aunt being very sensitive to animals saw that he was so hungry that his fear was overridden by a desperate need for food. He would let no one else near him except for her and if food was left out by someone else, he would know and leave it to go stale. She really had an amazing gift with animals. Eventually he trusted her enough to allow her to stroke him, but nothing more. He was content to live a wilder life if it meant he was safe from humans. We really are a disgrace to this planet.

General Cat Care #1: Before You Bring Your Cat Home
You will need food, food dish, water bowl, interactive toys, brush, comb, safety cat collar, scratching post, litter and litter box.
General Cat Care #2: Feeding
An adult cat should be fed one large or two smaller meals each day. Kittens from 6 to 12 weeks need to be fed four times a day. Kittens from three to six months need to be fed three times a day. You can either feed specific meals, throwing away any leftover canned food after 30 minutes or free-feed dry food (keeping food out all the time).

Feed your cat a high-quality, brand-name kitten or cat food (avoid generic brands) two to three times a day. Kittens can be fed human baby food for a short time if they won’t eat kitten food softened by soaking in warm water. Use turkey or chicken baby food made for children six months and older. Gradually mix with cat food. Cow’s milk is not necessary and can cause diarrhea in kittens and cats. Provide fresh, clean water at all times. Wash and refill water bowls daily.

So how do you help stray cats? How do you gain their trust?

Firstly you need to know the difference between a feral and a stray cat.
It's not always easy to tell because in time a stray cat will go back to its natural instincts, which is the same as a feral cats behaviour. Obviously a stray cat will have been abandoned by their owners or may have got lost. They might be wearing a collar, but if not you should be able to tell by the quality of their fur if they have recently become strays, rather than being a feral cat. If you can, take a photo of it and check with your local vets if anyone has lost their cat. Don't just presume you can take somebody else's cat, in a lot of places it is illegal. Also there could be a legitimate reason for them getting lost and there may be someone desperately trying to find them. Usually you can become a stray cats owner after about two weeks of notifying the local animal centres, vets etc.

A feral cat will be much less prone to engage with you and will be more likely to be aggressive, showing wild behaviour. You're also less likely to see them for any length of time, as any sign of a human and they're off. Can't blame them for that! Feral cats have been born into the wild from either feral parents or stray cats that haven't been spayed. They tend to live in casual family colonies and are able to survive in urban and rural areas. They aren't always popular as like other wildlife they may forage through your bins for food. Be warned, your neighbourhood may not thank you for starting a feeding programme for them.

General Cat Care #3: Grooming
Most cats stay relatively clean and rarely need a bath, but they do need to be brushed or combed. Frequent brushing helps keep your cat’s coat clean, reduces the amount of shedding and cuts down on the incidence of hairballs
General Cat Care #4: Handling
To pick up your cat, place one hand behind the front legs and another under the hindquarters. Lift gently. Never pick up a cat by the scruff of the neck (behind the ears) or by the front legs without supporting the rear end.
General Cat Care #5: Housing
Cats should have a clean, dry place of their own in the house. Line your cat’s bed with a soft, warm blanket or towel. Be sure to wash the bedding often. Please keep your cat indoors. If your companion animal is allowed outside, he can contract diseases, get ticks or parasites, become lost or get hit by a car, hurt in a fight or poisoned. Also, cats prey on wildlife.

So, if you want to help a stray cat the first thing you should do, of course, is feed them.

An adult stray that is under nourished will build themselves up quicker on kitten food. However go back to adult cat food as soon as you see an improvement. They will need the vitamins and nutrients from adult food once they have recovered. Try wet food as well as dry. See what their preferences are. Buy new cat bowls as they won't like the scent of other pets if you have them. Always provide fresh water every day. Feed them at night to begin with and leave dry food out in the daytime in case they start to come to your garden more often. They need to know they have a secure place to come to. After a while try to be present when you know the stray is going to turn up. Put the food down, keep back and talk in a calm, soothing tone. Don't try to pet the cat at this stage. Let it feed and leave if it needs to.

The main point is to gradually gain trust. You know you can't rush a cat. On the next occasion offer some biscuits from your hand. They may not take it, persevere and try again next time. If no one claims the cat and you decide to rehome this stray then capturing it in the most humane way is your next step. You may not be able to do this, so it's advisable to contact your local animal centre and they may be able to send someone to assist you. Once you've done that take your stray cat to the vets for a thorough check up. Deworming, flea and ear mite treatments and neutering must all be done. If you have other pets keep the new cat separate in one room until they've settled down and slowly introduce them.

Once you've decide to take responsibility of a stray cat and have brought it home, be prepared for the settling in period to take some time. You don't know what they've gone through, be patient. They will probably want to remain by your side as much as possible. In time this should calm down but remember they may be a little afraid of this new home. Pamper them with new cat toys, cat bed and stand. You may want to try a feline facial pheromone spray or diffuser to help calm them down.

General Cat Care #6: Identification
If allowed outdoors (again, we caution against it!), your cat needs to wear a safety collar and an ID tag. A safety collar with an elastic panel will allow your cat to break loose if the collar gets caught on something. An ID tag or an implanted microchip can help insure that your cat is returned if he or she becomes lost.
General Cat Care #7: Litter Box
All indoor cats need a litter box, which should be placed in a quiet, accessible location. A bathroom or utility room is a good place for your cat’s box. In a multi-level home, one box per floor is recommended. Avoid moving the box unless absolutely necessary. Then do so slowly, a few inches a day. Cats won’t use a messy, SMELLY litter box. Scoop solids out of the box at least once a day. Dump everything, wash with a mild detergent (don’t use ammonia) and refill at least once a week, less frequently if using clumping litter. Don’t use deodorants or scents in the litter or litter box (especially avoid lemon scent).
Updated: February 24, 2017 — 5:48 pm

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