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It's important for everyone to take responsibility for the neighborhood stray. Left unattended, this cat can reproduce and before long there will be dozens and dozens of strays in your neighborhood. If the cat is altered, it's still our responsibility to make sure that his needs are met or, at the very least, take him to a shelter. There are many perils facing outside cats—cars, predators, lack of food and unscrupulous humans.

If your neighborhood stray won't come near you or hides, leave food where you first saw him. Continue to feed each day at the same time, establishing a routine. Obtain a humane trap (usually your local shelter or animal welfare group will loan traps and explain how to use them) and when you have trapped him, consider what's best for the cat. If you can continue to feed him each day, then the first stop is the veterinarian who should test the cat for Feline AIDs and Feline Leukemia. If the cat tests negative, then he should be vaccinated and altered. He can be released into your neighborhood after recovery.

Socializing a feral cat requires time and patience. The key points: confine in a cage; feed him often; play a radio for him; speak softly; move slowly. Depending on the history of the cat, socializing may not be possible and the best you may be able to do is feed him each day and set up shelter for him (a dog igloo works well). This is true for most feral cats over four months of age.

If you're not able to be the caretaker for this cat and you have established the fact that this cat doesn't have a guardian, then you MUST take him to a shelter. An abandoned cat pays with his life because of an irresponsible and uncaring person.



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