Caring for Stray Cats, Kittens

Read below for tips on how to properly care, feed and place stray kittens and how to handle interactions between strays and your resident cat as well as how to humanely trap strays.

Kitten Found on Doorstep

Dear Simba,
I found an abandoned kitten yesterday and decided to take him home with me. I took him to the vet first for a check up. The vet said that my kitten, Ginger has a fever, which has contributed to his eye infection and flu. Ginger is still rather active. He plays with his strings and toys but he does not seem to be eating much and he refuses to drink water.

He also follows me around everywhere I go. He keeps on crying and wants me to carry him and hold him! He evens wants to sleep on me. The vet said he should be fine after he finishes his course of antibiotics. I am worried about him. I am so afraid he will starve and dehydrate to death. How long does it take for a kitty to recover from the flu, fever and eye infections? Jackie

Dear Jackie,
First, thanks for rescuing the little guy! His following you around and his wanting to sleep on you are natural signs of affection. You appear to have bonded with him and he is simply returning your love. Do not worry about your catching his cold, eye problems or fever. The cat flu is not contagious to humans but it does require treatment.

As for his not eating or drinking, that is a matter of concern. You may want to consider giving him water and/or feeding him with a beaker. Maybe spike the water with tuna juice! Cats that skip meals can suffer dangerous liver problems. Take Ginger to a follow-on visit in the next few days and have him checked for worms and FIV, Leukemia, FIP. Be sure to schedule his shots. Simba



Dear Simba,
A little kitten just turned up on our doorstep, it is very friendly yet seems ill. It is unable to meow and, attempts to cough (unsuccessfully), has shallow breathing and slightly watery eyes. We are poor folk and would like some home health advice before going to the vet. We eagerly await your reply, Anxious New Kitten Lovers

Dear Anxious New Kitten Lovers,
You are kind in looking after the little guy. Check out the Care for Young Kittens section for tips on basic care for young kittens. As you may know from browsing through the cat flu section, your little guy may be suffering from either a viral or bacterial infection which does require medical treatment. Your best bet is to keep the little guy warm and cozy, well fed ( with kitten food or formula depending on age), and well hydrated (plenty of water) until you are able to go to a vet or your local humane center for him to get some medical care. You may have some luck relieving his upper respiratory distress by holding him outside a warm shower and letting the steam clear out his nasal passages. Simba


Dear Simba, My husband found a kitten at the golf course, she is ~8-weeks-old. She has a bad flea problem and most of her hair on a large portion of her body is gone. I am concerned about mange. We also have a 2-year-old that loves the cat.

Hi - You are certainly right to be concerned about mange. mange results from Demodex mites. The mites are naturally occurring and normal in people & animals. However, creatures with weak immune systems like abandoned kittens and/or hereditary problem are often unable to control the mites. This may be affecting your kitty. Mites (in large quantities) may release compounds that will further weaken your kitty's immune system. They can also cause local infections. Best thing to do is to go feed and take good care of kitty (so as to strengthen her immune system).

take her to the vet to have kitty tested and treated for FIV, parasites and all the other basics. Your vet will probably use a shampoo to help flush the hair follicles and may provide some antibiotics and/or immune stimulants in addition to flea treatment. -Simba


I was feeding a stray that had two solid black kittens. The mother was brownish black and the father black (he hangs around regularly). I thought the kittens would be just the right size to give away for Christmas. However, one kitten (who is absolutely beautiful) has a continual runny nose and sneezes all the time. The other one's fur has become brittle and silver-colored. I have read your posts about kitty flu but am confused about the fur changing color. Could they have a nutritional problem? I was not aware that the kittens were even alive till a neighbor told me and I brought them to my house (They were ~3-weeks-old at the time) Not that it has any effect on the question, but two large dogs killed the mother day before yesterday-I am sure she was trying to defend them. Thank you - Cat Addict

Dear Cat Addict,
What a tragedy. I think that your best bet is to take both kittens to the vet. While one appears to be displaying signs of the cat flu which as you know can be caused by either a viral or bacterial infection. The other kitten shows symptoms that can occur with a variety of ailments, including inflammatory bowel disease, which can lead to problems in the absorption of proteins/vitamins. Low serum protein can cause a reddish discoloration of the fur. Another possible cause is ringworm

For now, make sure they are eating a good and nutritious kitten food or formula and that they are warm and comfy. Also take them to the vet and have them checked out so they can start treatment as soon as possible. Simba


Stray Cats Sleeping On Car



Dear Simba, How do I stop stray cats from sleeping on my cars at night? Mark

Dear Mark,
One of the better ways to handle this is to install a motion activated light near your car. The light will startle the strays which will make them less likely to park on your vehicle. The added benefit is that in being bright, it reduces the sense of stealth that the cats would otherwise have, thus decreasing the allure of your car.

Cat Repellent, which folks often use to keep cats off certain places in their homes. Keep me posted. Simba


Stray Cat Bothers Resident Cat



Hello Simba,
I have a 16-year-old male orange tabby, Theo. I have had him since he was 4-weeks-old, front paws declawed at 10 weeks, neutered since 6 months,up to date on all shots, always been an indoor cat. he is very sweet,talks to us every morning, never has had a behavioral problem.

About 8 weeks ago, my 10-year-old daughter started feeding a stray young female cat that showed up around our house. The daughter playedwith the cat outside and the cat showed up like clockwork every morning and night to be fed. Because of her size we assumed she may have been pregnant. After a couple of weeks, we started letting her inside to eat and slowly transferred her indoors more and more. As we were expecting the delivery of kittens soon, we started keeping her inside. We set her up in a room of her own with food and water in her own dishes and her own litter box, alon with a ball of yarn that accompanied her to our house. She started staying inside all the time just before the kittens were born. And Theo would basically ignore her whereas Kitty would only quietly hiss at him when he came near her. We assumed they needed time to adjust to each other...

Kitty's kittens were born 2 weeks ago in my daughter's room were Theo never entered. A week later, Kitty moved them to our room, where Theo usually resides. Kitty then took over one of Theo's favorite hiding places. Theo does not go in our room anymore. Kitty usually sits watch at our door and hisses at him when he comes that way. This past week, Kitty has been searching out Theo to attack him. She started eating from Theo's food and water dishes, as well as her own. She started using Theo's litter box, as well as her own. And she started coming up behind him and attacking him with her claws.

Theo seems scared of her and usually just gives her space. Lately, he has been hissing back at her. Yesterday, Theo started using the floor in the living room to go to relieve himself, and will not go near hislitter box, Kitty chases him away from there. When he goes near his food and water dish, he is hesitant and looks all around, Kitty chases him away from there, too. Last night, I patted the sofa for Theo to jump upon (he usually waits for permission to jump up on furniture), and he was hesistant, kept looking at Kitty. When he finally did turn to jump, Kitty started after him. Theo, who used to be quite talkative, does nottalk anymore...or purr.

we are not sure what to do. We spray water at Kitty when she is misbehaving. We pet her and talk to her when she is nice. She is an attentive mom to her kittens. We do not plan on keeping her. We are spaying her as soon as we can and we have a nice farm home lined up for her where she will be happy to run outside and hunt mice, which she is good at. But we want the kittens to have their mom as long as possible. My daughter is keeping one of the kittens.

We are worried about Theo and since he is my baby, he comes first. Help us, please!? Michelle

Michelle,
It is good that brought in Kitty and let her have the kittens in a safe place. However, in giving her free run of the house, including access to Theo's favorite spots you have set her and Theo up for conflict. Kitty's aggression to Theo is indicative of her motherly / protective instinct and is entirely understandable (Tomcats have been known to kill kittens that are not theirs. Not an issue with Theo, but Kitty does not know that). In letting this escalate you have given Kitty a sense of ownership over your house and she is (in her mind) seeking to intimidate and neutralize the only potential threat to her and her kittens. So what to do?

  • Restrict Kitty to a room and do not let her out of it.
  • Put a child-proof fence or pen and let her nurse the cats from there.
Give Theo time to feel his way around the house. Be aware that it may take some time for him to feel safe again. As for the new kitten, handle the introduction slowly. See the other letters for tips.


Humane Rescue & Trapping Tips

Dear Simba,
I am the lucky owner of 7 cats that came to me when I moved in three years ago. I am concerned about one that is been with me for 2 years. He will not let me pet him. Most of them at the beginning were afraid of me but it did not take them long to become lovable…now I can even carry them. All of them except for the really wild one have been spayed or neutered. My concern is that he has become sexually active now, he is getting into fights and I cannot catch him to get him operated! Do you have any answers for people like me that feed and love strays?

Hi, You are a good person for taking care of the cats and considerate for wanting to have the little guy neutered. See the note below for tips on how to humanely trap stray cats. Good luck! Simba

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