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From Stray to Snuggle Buddy: The Ultimate Guide to Taking in Former Street Cats

Taking in a Former Street Cat

Are you considering adopting a former street cat? These cats come in a variety of forms such as feral, stray, and previously owned, each with their unique set of needs and challenges.

Types of Community Cats

Feral cats are often unsocialized and may be fearful of humans. While they can be tamed with patience and a gentle approach, it may take some time before they are comfortable around people.

They are not suitable for households with young children or pets as they can be skittish and may react unpredictably. Stray cats, on the other hand, have had interactions with people before.

They may be comfortable around humans and may even approach them for food or attention. However, they may have never lived indoors and may need guidance in adjusting to their new home.

Previously owned cats are cats that have had homes before but have lost them for various reasons. They may be surrendered to a shelter or abandoned on the streets.

These cats may have some experience living indoors and interacting with humans, but they may also have some behavioral and medical issues that need to be addressed.

Medical Issues

Regardless of the type of community cat, it’s essential to take them to a vet for a thorough check-up. Stray and feral cats are more at risk of carrying diseases and parasites, such as feline leukemia, feline immunodeficiency virus, and heartworms.

It’s crucial to ensure that your new cat is up to date with vaccinations, flea and tick prevention, and heartworm prevention. A vet can also test for parasites and provide treatment if necessary.

Behavioral Issues

Cats, especially those that have lived on the streets, may have some behavioral issues that need to be addressed. Litter box problems are common as cats may not have had access to a litter box or have been forced to use unsanitary environments.

Scratching and spraying are also common behavioral issues that can be challenging to deal with. Providing appropriate scratching posts and placing litter boxes in quiet and private areas can help with these problems.

Patience is essential when dealing with behavioral issues in cats. Consistency and positive reinforcement go a long way in addressing these issues.

Timidity or Fearfulness

Cats that have experienced trauma, such as being abandoned or abused, may be timid or fearful. Building trust with these cats takes time and patience.

Creating a safe space for your new cat to retreat to when feeling scared or overwhelmed can help them adjust to their new environment. Slow and gentle interactions, such as offering treats or playing with a toy, can also help build trust.

Adjustment to Living Indoors

Cats that have spent their lives outdoors may take some time to adjust to indoor living. Providing plenty of toys, hiding spots, and perches can help keep your cat entertained and comfortable.

It’s essential to ensure that your cat has access to all the basic necessities, such as food, water, and litter boxes. Microchipping your cat is also a good idea to ensure they can be reunited with you if they accidentally escape.

Importance of Adopting from Shelters

When considering adding a new furry friend to your family, it’s essential to consider adopting from a shelter. Not only do you give a loving and deserving cat a forever home, but you also help support the shelter’s rescue efforts.

Shelter Rescue Work

Shelters do crucial rescue work, taking in stray and abandoned cats and ensuring they receive proper care and attention. They provide veterinary care, food, and shelter until these cats find their forever homes.

Without shelters, stray and feral cats would be left to fend for themselves, often facing starvation, disease, and injury.

Likelihood of Stray Cats

The number of stray cats in the US is staggering, with estimates ranging from 30 to 70 million. Adopting from a shelter means providing a home to a cat that may have never known love and warmth.

Rescue Organization Operations

Nonprofit rescue organizations often operate on very limited funds, and their adoption rates are often critical to their continued operations. Adopting from these organizations means supporting their vital efforts to help animals in need.

Rewards of Adopting

Adopted cats often make lovable and affectionate pets. They are often thankful for their second chance at life and may show their appreciation with lots of cuddles and purrs.



Taking in a former street cat can offer incredible rewards. They need a patient and committed owner who is willing to help them overcome their challenges and adjust to their new life.

Adopting from shelters and rescue organizations not only gives these cats a second chance at life, but it also helps support their critical rescue efforts. So, go ahead and give a homeless kitty the love and affection they deserve!

Types of Community Cats

Community cats are those cats that have no particular owner and often live in outdoor groups known as colonies. These include feral cats, previously owned cats, and strays and each has unique characteristics, behaviors, and needs.

Feral Cats

Feral cats have been born and raised without contact with humans and are too wild to be adopted as pets. These cats are mainly nocturnal and feed on prey such as rodents, birds, and reptiles.

Due to their inability to adjust to indoor life, they prefer to live outside in colonies, particularly in urban and suburban areas. Feral cats are generally untouchable and terrified of humans.

Their behaviors are very different from those of domesticated cats due to their lack of socialization. These cats often hiss, growl, and even attack when approached by humans.

Therefore, they are unsuitable for many households, particularly those with young children.

Previously Owned Cats

Previously owned cats are those cats that have had owners at some point in their lives but have lost their homes. These cats may have more experience living with humans than feral cats and are thus more socialized.

They seek out affection and may approach humans for attention or food. Previously owned cats often require significant time and patience from their new owners as their adjustment to indoor life can be a big challenge.

These cats may display some behavioral issues, such as litter box problems, marking, and scratching. With proper care and attention, however, these cats can become loving and beloved pets.

Integration and Behavior

Living in colonies is a common behavior for community cats. Feral cats often form social groups and live together.

Their behavior differs from that of domesticated cats, as they are usually less affectionate and reliant on humans for food and other basic necessities. Previously owned cats, on the other hand, may have already developed a bond with humans and may require less time in adjusting to living indoors.

These cats may be suitable for households with younger children who want to play with a pet. They may also tolerate other pets, including dogs and cats.

Medical Issues

When taking in a community cat, it’s essential to consider their health status and any medical issues they may have. While some cats may appear healthy, a thorough medical assessment is necessary to ensure their wellness.

Medical Assessment

A thorough health assessment involves physical checkups, sterilization, and vaccination. The assessment may include testing for diseases such as feline leukemia and FIV, both of which can be fatal to cats.

Flea and de-worming treatments, ear mite checks, and other medical procedures may be necessary to ensure the cat’s health and wellbeing.

Disease Detection

Feline leukemia and FIV are two common diseases that tend to affect community cats. Feline leukemia is a contagious virus that can be transmitted from infected cats to healthy ones.

It can cause cancer and affect a cat’s immune system. FIV, on the other hand, is less contagious and is only transmitted through bite wounds.

Both diseases have no cure, but early detection is vital to ensure the cat’s quality of life.

Health Risks

Community cats, particularly feral cats, are exposed to many health risks, such as infection, diseases, and malnourishment. Outdoor colonies of community cats may cause potential health risks to the animals themselves, as well as other animals via flea infestations.

Therefore, it’s essential to vaccinate and quarantine community cats before integrating them into households with other pets. Doing so can prevent the spread of diseases and ensure the new cat’s health and wellbeing.

Quarantine Period

A quarantine period is essential for ensuring the cat’s health and limiting the risk of transmission of diseases to other pets and even humans. During this time, the cat should be isolated and observed for any signs of illness.

If the cat shows symptoms of illness, it’s best to keep them quarantined and promptly consult with a veterinarian. Although a quarantine period can seem inconvenient, it can ensure the health of all pets in the household and prevent the spread of disease.


Taking in a community cat requires a significant amount of attention, care, and patience. It’s crucial to understand the different types of community cats, their behavior, and health status before committing to adopting one.

With appropriate training and medical care, community cats can be loving and loyal companions just like any other pet.

Behavioral Issues

Cats are complex creatures and like all animals, they can exhibit behavioral problems from time to time. These problems can be related to a variety of factors such as stress, environmental changes, medical issues, and trauma.

Understanding these issues and how to address them can help create a more enjoyable and healthy relationship with your cat.

Common Problems

Behavioral issues in cats can include scratching, litter box problems, spraying, and nurturing behavior. These issues can be frustrating, but with patience and training, they can be resolved.


Scratching is natural behavior for cats. They scratch to sharpen their claws, stretch their muscles, and mark their territory.

However, this behavior can lead to damage to furniture and other household items. Providing your cat with appropriate scratching posts can help redirect their scratching behavior.

Placing posts in strategic locations can also help, such as near their litter box or in their favorite spot in your home.

Litter Box Issues

Litter box issues are a common behavioral problem in cats. These problems can be related to many factors such as cleanliness, medical issues, and territorial behavior.

Ensuring that there are enough litter boxes for each cat in your household and keeping them clean can help prevent litter box problems. If the cat continues to urinate outside the box, then consulting a veterinarian is recommended.


Spraying is a behavior in which a cat marks its territory by spraying urine on walls or other household items. It’s a common behavioral problem in male cats that are not neutered.

To solve this problem, neutering the cat can be effective. Regular vet visits can also help detect and treat any medical issues that may be causing the spraying behavior.

Nurturing Behavior

Cats can show various nurturing behaviors such as kneading, sucking, and grooming. These behaviors are natural and are generally related to seeking comfort and affection.

While these behaviors may be endearing, some may find them excessive or inappropriate. Providing a loving and secure environment can help mitigate these behaviors.

Timidity or Fearfulness

Some cats may show timidity or fearfulness due to trauma and past abuse. Building a bond of trust with these cats requires patience and a gentle approach.

Acclimation Process

When welcoming a new cat into your home, it’s essential to give them plenty of time to adjust to their surroundings. Introducing the cat to other pets should be done gradually to minimize stress and fear.

Provide a safe space for the cat, such as a cozy bed, and allow them to explore their new environment at their own pace. Slow and gentle interactions with your new cat can help build trust and confidence.

Trauma and Abuse

Cats that have experienced past trauma and abuse may have a much harder time acclimating to their new environment. These cats require even more patience and gentleness to build trust.

Slow and gentle interactions, such as offering treats and playing with toys, can help cats regain a sense of safety and security. However, it’s essential to avoid forcing physical contact, as this can often make the cat feel threatened and fearful.

Quarantine Measures

When dealing with a timid or fearful cat, quarantine measures can be helpful in reducing stress and fear. Placing the cat in a quiet and peaceful room can help the cat feel secure and protect them from any potential stressors such as loud noises or other pets.

During the quarantine period, it’s essential to provide plenty of toys, food, and water. Maintaining a clean and peaceful environment can help minimize stress and fear, allowing the cat to acclimate to their new surroundings more easily.

Building Trust

Building trust with a timid or fearful cat requires patience, consistency, and a gentle approach. Offering treats and playing with toys can help the cat feel more comfortable.

Providing a loving and secure environment can also help the cat feel more at ease. However, it’s important to remember that building trust takes time and that the cat may need more time and space to feel safe and secure.

Avoid forcing physical contact, allow the cat to initiate interactions, and let them take their time to adjust to their new surroundings.


Addressing behavioral issues in cats requires patience, attention, and care. Identifying the underlying causes of these problems is essential in creating a peaceful and healthy relationship with your cat.

Taking the time to acclimate timid or fearful cats can help build a bond of trust that can last a lifetime.

Adjustment to Living Indoors

While cats have lived outdoors for centuries, indoor living has become more common in modern times. While some cats adapt well to indoor life, others may find it challenging.

Understanding the challenges associated with adjusting to indoor life can help create a comfortable environment for your cat.

Challenges of Adaptation

Adjusting to a new environment can be a big challenge for cats. Indoor life requires cats to adapt to new situations, such as being confined indoors, sharing their space with other pets and people, and new routines.

Understanding and being aware of the challenges your cat may face during this period can make the transition smoother. Patience and positivity can help your cat feel less stressed and more comfortable in their new environment.

Importance of Indoor Living

Indoor living is crucial to a cat’s safety and health. Cats that are allowed to roam outdoors are exposed to numerous dangers such as traffic, predators, and harsh weather conditions.

They are also at risk of contracting diseases from other cats, such as feline leukemia and FIV. Indoor living provides cats with a safer and healthier environment that can help them live longer and happier lives.

Adapting to Indoor Life

Adapting to indoor life requires several key components, including appropriate vaccinations, microchipping, and rooting. Proper vaccination against diseases such as feline leukemia and FIV is crucial for a cat’s health and wellbeing.

Microchipping is a simple procedure that can help reunite your cat with you in case they escape. Rooting, or putting down roots in a new environment, takes time and patience but is essential for a cat’s sense of security and comfort.

Cat Preferences

While some cats may enjoy being outdoors, many prefer indoor living. Indoor cats are often content with their environment and enjoy the safety and comfort it provides.

However, every cat is different, and their preferences should be respected. Providing an enriched indoor environment for your cat,

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