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A Cat Care Society guide to helping outdoor cats

Hard to believe this comfortable feline was once an alley cat. Cat Care Society has tips and suggestions for helping outdoor cats in your neighborhood.
Hard to believe this comfortable feline was once an alley cat. Cat Care Society has tips and suggestions for helping outdoor cats in your neighborhood.
Carrie Dow

The Cat Care Society of Lakewood is more than just a cat adoption shelter. The shelter helps cats throughout the metro area and provides feline education to help us all be more aware of how to care for and help the cats in our homes and our community. This month the Cat Care Society shares how to identify and care for an outdoor cat. Information provided by CCS member Teresa Crago.

What should people do when they see an unfamiliar cat roaming in the neighborhood? There are several possibilities as to why that cat is outside:

  1. The cat belongs to a neighbor and is allowed outside unsupervised
  2. The cat may be separated from her owner who wants her back
  3. The cat has been abandoned and needs a new home
  4. The cat is feral (a cat that is considered wild due to lack of human contact)

As cat-lovers we want to help and there are several ways to go about this. The important thing to keep in mind is to do what is the best for the cat and remember not all cats on the loose are strays.

Signs a cat is lost or abandoned:

  1. The cat approaches you, but runs away before you can touch her.
  2. Cats that will accept food from you, but run away before you can catch or touch them.
  3. Cats who appear well fed and not interested in you, but not scared of you either may already have a home to return to. Some outdoor cats have collars, but may not have tags. Best to watch this type of cat closely before acting.

What to do for cats who appear lost or abandoned:

  1. Take the cat to a vet or to the Cat Care Society. If the animal has a microchip, these resources can scan the chip and find out who the owner is. Congratulations! You have just rescued a cat.
  2. Sometimes the microchip information is out of date or there is no chip at all. You, the vet and/or the Cat Care Society can help by checking with other shelters and resources in the area to see if there is a lost cat who fits the description of the animal you brought in. You can help by placing “found cat” bulletins around the neighborhood.
  3. Sometimes the Cat Care Society will take in the lost cat. However, since the shelter is near or at capacity throughout the year, this is not always possible. Be prepared to help the shelter and care for the cat until the owner can be found.

What to do for cats that are feral:

Feral cats are considered wild and normally do not make eye contact with people and will not approach people. However, sometimes wild cats are fed by nearby homes so they are often spotted in the neighborhood. Here are some tips for helping a distressed feral cat:

  1. Use a humane trap to capture the cat. These can be rented at the Cat Care Society along with tips for their use.
  2. Take the cat to a veterinarian or the Cat Care Society for neutering and/or medical care. There is a fee to provide this service. Those who can’t afford a veterinarian can take feral cats to several organizations for low cost services (see below).
  3. Allow the cat time to recuperate at your home for a few days before returning to the outdoors.
  4. Release the cat in the location you found her because she is familiar with that place.
  5. If you were feeding the cat before, continue to do so.
  6. Because a feral cat will most likely NOT adjust to becoming an indoor cat, most people release the cat back into the neighborhood. Keep in mind that neutering helps provide medical care to the cat and will keep that animal from producing more homeless cats in the future.

Here are some resources for those interested in neutering feral cats:

Cat Care Society – The shelter offers low cost neutering for all cats and can help people with lost cats find their animals. They are located at 5787 West 6th Avenue in Lakewood; 303-239-9680.

Denver Dumb Friends League – The DDFL has a Meow Mobile unit that provides neutering services throughout Denver. Visit their website to see the schedule or learn more by calling 303-751-5772.

Divine Feline/The Feline Fix – This organization specializes in neutering services for free-roaming cats to help control feral populations. The organization also provides neutering services to house cats for reduced costs. Call 303-202-3516 to schedule an appointment.

February is World Spay Month so many organizations have reduced their neutering fees even further. Get your cat spayed or neutered today.

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