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Adopting a Stray Cat

October 1, 2020

Have you been considering adopting a stray cat? Many of our feline patients were former strays. Some were rescued off the streets, while others may have just showed up at their new homes and decided to stay. Stray cats can make wonderful pets. We love seeing any cat getting adopted. However, you will need to keep some things in mind, and take a few precautions. A Huntersville, NC vet discusses adopting a stray kitty in this article.

Making Friends

Strays can be skittish, even if they’ve had human friends before. The easiest way to build Fluffy’s trust is simply by providing her with food, water, and shelter. We recommend keeping your furry buddy in a quiet back room at first, so she can settle in. Talk to her and offer her toys and treats, but don’t force attention on her. It’s very important to let her come to you.

Veterinary Care

One of the first things you’ll want to do is take Fluffy to the vet. A thorough exam is definitely in order! Fluffy will also need vaccinations and parasite control. Ask your vet to check for a microchip, just in case your new feline friend is someone’s beloved missing pet.


Socialization is often a major factor in determining how friendly or skittish a cat can be. It’s also one of the main differences between stray and feral cats. Strays have been around people before. In fact, many strays were once pets themselves. Feral cats, on the other hand, are entirely wild, and can be aggressive. That’s not to say that they can’t be adopted: it really just depends on the cat. Just take Fluffy’s personality and your household into consideration. Ask your vet for specific advice.

Keeping Kitty In

There are many reasons we recommend keeping cats indoors. Fluffy is not only healthier, she’ll also be much safer. However, strays can take time to adjust to the indoor life. Set out lots of pet-safe plants, to give your feline pal a taste of the great outdoors. (Tip: check the ASPCA site here for suggestions.) Things like cat towers, scratching posts, comfy beds, toys, treats, and boxes will make your home fun and comfy for your new buddy. With love and care, you’ll be enjoying purrs and cuddles before you know it!

Our Advice on Adopting a Stray Cat in 2024

How can you build trust with a stray cat when adopting it?

Building trust with a stray cat when adopting requires patience and a gentle approach. Start by providing food, water, and shelter in a quiet space. Allow the cat to settle in without imposing attention. Speak softly and offer toys and treats to create positive associations. Let the cat initiate contact and avoid sudden movements. Consistency is vital; maintain a routine to establish a sense of security. Over time, as the cat becomes more comfortable, it gradually increases interaction. Building trust takes time, but a strong bond can develop with kindness and respect for the cat’s boundaries, leading to a rewarding companionship.

Why is a thorough veterinary examination essential for a newly adopted stray cat?

For several reasons, a thorough veterinary examination is crucial for a newly adopted stray cat. Firstly, it helps assess the cat’s overall health and identify any underlying medical issues that may not be immediately apparent. This examination ensures that health concerns are addressed promptly, preventing potential complications. Secondly, vaccinations and parasite control are essential to protect the cat and other pets in the household from diseases and parasites. Also, checking for a microchip can help reunite the cat with its original owner if lost. Overall, a comprehensive vet exam is vital in providing the best care and a healthy start for your newly adopted stray cat.

What vaccinations and parasite control measures should be administered to a stray cat?

When adopting a stray cat, it’s essential to administer vaccinations and parasite control measures to ensure their health and well-being. Core vaccinations, including those for rabies and feline distemper (panleukopenia), are vital to protect against deadly diseases. Additionally, non-core vaccines, such as those for feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus, may be recommended depending on the cat’s lifestyle and risk factors. Parasite control should include treatments for internal and external parasites like worms, fleas, and ticks. A thorough examination and consultation with a veterinarian will determine the specific vaccines and parasite control measures needed for the individual cat.

What is the difference between stray and feral cats in terms of socialization?

The critical difference between stray and feral cats is their socialization with humans. Stray cats often have had previous interactions with humans, such as former pets or kittens born to pet cats. They are more likely to be open to human interaction and can be socialized into becoming pets again. On the other hand, feral cats have had little to no human contact while growing up in the wild. They tend to be more fearful and may resist human interaction. While some feral cats can be socialized with patience, it often depends on the individual cat’s temperament and experiences.

What considerations should be made when transitioning a stray cat to an indoor lifestyle?

Transitioning a stray cat to an indoor lifestyle requires careful consideration. Start by providing a safe, comfortable indoor space with food, water, and litter boxes. Offer enrichment items like cat towers, scratching posts, toys, and cozy beds to make the environment appealing. Ensure windows have secure screens or window perches for outdoor views. Gradually introduce the cat to indoor life, allowing them to adjust at their own pace. Monitor their behavior and increase progressive interaction. Be patient, as this transition can take time. Regular vet check-ups, vaccinations, and parasite control are essential for their well-being. With love and patience, most stray cats adapt successfully to indoor living.

Please contact us, your Huntersville, NC vet clinic, anytime. We’re here to help!