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Things to Feed a Stray Cat

By Catherine Holden Robinson | Updated September 26, 2017

Michael Gann/Demand Media

The average cat isn't likely to pitch a fit, pack a bag and decide to move out after an argument. Nonetheless, certain circumstances can cause a cat to take to the streets and become a stray. The likelihood that a stray might find his way to you is relatively high, especially if you live in a rural area. If this occurs, you might be inclined to offer a wayward feline a meal.

Stray Versus Feral


A stray cat normally becomes such when he is lost or abandoned by his family. A stray is often friendly and will approach you if you call to him, especially if he was raised in a home.

Feral cat communities roam the streets, often in groups. The primary difference is that feral cat communities are often street smart and can live in abandoned buildings and alleys. These colonies populate at staggering rates. Feral offspring who have never known the loving touch of a human, will become wild and often unapproachable. Feral cat colony caretakers often participate in TNR also called, "trap, neuter, return," to try to control the feral population.

Making Friends


The first step toward making friends with a stray may be to offer a meal. Canned cat food is an excellent option, easily digestible and friendly if the cat has gone awhile between feedings or has dental issues. Dry cat food also can be offered.

If the stray is extremely emaciated, he needs to be seen by a vet. Consider contacting your local Humane Society or cat rescue, or taking the cat to your local veterinarian. If you take the stray in, check him for identification tags, talk with your neighbors, and consider placing found cat posters or posting his photo on social media, to try to reconnect him with his owner.

Out of Cat Food


If you don't have a cat or aren't inclined to visit your local grocer to pick up some cat kibble, your kitchen might hold some viable options. Tuna is a great alternative, and its appeal to the feline olfactory sense is sure to bring your new friend to the dinner table. You can opt to give your guest some cooked meat, as long as it is bone free. Bones, especially chicken bones, can cause choking and intestinal distress. A hot dog or some lunch meat might do in a pinch, but don't overdo it. A small amount of food may be more than a stray has eaten in awhile.

Every Critter in Town


There is an art to feeding a stray, especially for any length of time. Feed at the same time daily, and avoid leaving food out at night when it may draw other critters, such as raccoons. Creating a routine with your stray will keep him coming back when he's hungry, especially if you're actively trying to reunite him with his family.

Photo Credits

  • Michael Gann/Demand Media