November 11, 2010
This week’s severe gales and rain are the result of a series of weather systems being delivered in rapid succession by the jet stream which positioned itself over the UK. The autumn leaves are being torn from the trees and wildlife is running for cover. If you’ve not seen much of your cat over the summer because it has spent most of its time outside that situation could be about to change. The damp patch under hedge is no competition for the warm spot in front of the fire.
The cat’s mainly outdoor life over the summer may not have been idyllic but it’s certainly different to a life indoors. Outside water, with no chemical taints, is freely available from ponds or bird baths. Flowerbeds provided plenty of light soil to use as a toilet. A whole day can be wasted waiting to ambush a mouse or watching the neighbours from a vantage point on a flat roof. And we must not forget sunbathing and rolling in the dust on the patio. Heaven!
Unfortunately some cats may have adopted an outdoor life over the summer out of necessity. These cats may have found life in their homes intolerable and found life outside in the summer a far less stressful alternative. For this group of cats an outdoor existence was not a lifestyle choice but was essential to preserve their sanity! When confronted with a stressful situation within a home one strategy which cats use to manage the stress is to move out. Many things can drive a cat from their home, the arrival of a new puppy, noisy children, building work or another cat within the household. But now the gales and rain have arrived what are they to do? They can either attempt to move back into their old home but are likely to be faced with the same stressful situation which caused them to move out in the first place or look for an alternative home.
Many cat owners whose own cats use a cat flap will start to see these uninvited guests arriving in their homes at this time of year. What is wrong with letting these ‘homeless’ cats into your home? For a start it could stress your own cat and may cause it to move out. If the ‘homeless’ cat have not received any preventative health treatments it can introduce fleas into your home. Homeless cats have an increased risk of diseases such as feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), for which there is no vaccine available in Europe, and this can be passed to your cat through bites when fighting.
So what should you do about an apparently homeless cat that wants to move in with you? ‘The Cat Group’ advise you to contact your neighbours and see if the cat has a local owner. The cat may not be homeless at all; it may have a loving home but just prefers the taste of your cat’s food! It could be a cat which has recently moved to the neighbourhood and has simply become lost. If the cat looks well and healthy you could put an advert in local shops, newspaper and vets to find the owner. If the cat was comfortable being handled you could put it in a basket, take it to your own vets and ask to have it scanned to see if it had a microchip. If it did have a microchip the vets could then locate the owners through a database such as Petlog. If you cannot locate the cat’s owner and it looks unwell then you should contact either the RSPCA or Cats Protection for their assistance.
The process of trying to determine if the apparently homeless cat has an owner can take time. You don’t want to let the cat into your own home because of risks to your own cat, but you feel dreadful leaving it outside in this weather. As a compromise while you’re conducting your investigations you could establish a shelter for it outdoors in a shed or Wendy-house in your garden and provide it with food and water but make sure you sterilise the bowls daily with boiling water, not disinfectant. To keep the cat out of your home you need to lock your cat flap unless you have a selective entry cat flap such as the Microchip Petporte Smart Flap®. The Petporte Smart Flap® helps to keep all uninvited cats from your home and so helps to protect your cat from stress and disease and your home from flea infestations. The homeless cat may well be taking shelter in your shed while you are conducting your investigations about their ownership. To reduce the chance of your cat fighting with this cat who is laying siege your home, keep your cat in at night because this is when most fights occur. If you have a Petporte Smart Flap® you can select the ‘night mode’ which locks the flap at dusk and opens it at dawn therefore keeping your cat in at night.
The British are a Nation of pet lovers and it is our inclination to care for strays and homeless cats. We would not want to change this but most owners are unaware of the risks to their own cats of inviting a stray cat into their homes. By all means provide care for the stray but do this outside of your home while you endeavour to find their owner. The Petporte Smart Flap® can help protect your cat while enabling you to continue to care for homeless cats.