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Is there a way to tell if a cat is a stray?

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
Periodically lately we have been hearing this cat talk/howl outside at night. Well last night we were watching tv and had our back door open b/c it was nice out. It has a glass "screen" door with about 4-5 inches at the bottom being screen. We look over and Nora is puffed up about 3x her normal size, frozen stiff staring out the screen. There is an orange tabby (assuming male b/c it just looked male, if that makes sense, though I didn't get a change to look at his bits) sitting on our back deck!! Then we hear what we initially thought was Nora growling, but we realized it was the other cat "talking" to Nora. Nora was a little more aggressive, probably b/c this is "her" territory, but the other cat never showed any signs of aggression at all. He sat calm and casual, never had his fur raised, and his ears were always in a normal position. He just wanted someone to talk to I guess. lol He was VERY chatty, talked to us the entire time, and even when hubby and I went over and sat next to the door he stayed there and responded every time we talked to him.

He was VERY skittish though. Every single noise or movement made him jump back, but he always came right back. He's a bit smaller than Nora, and somewhat thin. Nora is a healthy thin one year old cat, and he was skinnier than she is. I didn't know any better (now I do after reading threads in this section) but I fed him and he gobbled up 1/2c food right away. That's more than Nora eats throughout a typical day. He sat there and talked to us for probably a half an hour. He and Nora sniffed each other through the door and after a while Nora calmed down and seemed for the most part at ease.

I then put Nora in her room and decided to see what our new friend would do if I went outside. I sat on the deck and he stayed but sat quite a ways away in the yard just staring at me. He would respond with a meow when I would talk to him. He would sit way on my right, then walk way to my left and sit for a bit. Then he would walk back to my right again but sit a bit closer. He did this back and forth getting gradually closer until he was about 5 feet away from me. Then he washed his face. He wouldn't get any closer than that to me, though. Eventually, probably 15-30 minutes after I went outside, he walked away and went around the side of the house and never returned.

For the most part he seemed fairly healthy, even if he was a bit thin. I didn't get close enough to him to see if he had fleas (plus it was dark, as it was close to midnight when this all happened) or anything like that. He didn't have a collar on, but that doesn't mean anything to me b/c my parents' cats always were indoor/outdoor and never wore collars. We only hear/see him at night.

Is there anything I should/shouldn't do? Do you think he's a stray? He was friendly enough and very curious, but very skittish. I took a really cute video of him on my cell phone, and every time Nora hears him talking she runs over to the back door to see him. It's really cute! lol

Here's a bad cell phone picture of them sniffing each other through the screen. If you can't tell, they are nose to nose.
post #2 of 4
I am sure there are lots of others here who will have MUCH better advice than me but your encounter sounds almost exactly like how I met my first cat (aged 13).

What we (obviously I had to get permission from my mum lol!) did was put out an old bed our puppy had outgrown with a blanket in the old coal shed on the side of the house and left the door open.

We showed the cat and left the door open. Over a period of a week or so he consistently came to our shed to sleep and we built up enough familiarity and trust that he allowed us to pick him up and inspect him.

He had fleas and some sort of problem with his coat (I don't know what was wrong but it was patchy looking) and was clearly underweight. He had also obviously been in a lot of fights and had an eye infection.

We took him to a vet who agreed he had been owned at some point (he had been neutered) but had been mistreated/living wild for some time and over time we got him back to health and gorgeousness - it wasn't difficult and I don't remember him going to the vet for anything other than shots after the first time there was a pill he had to take for his coat I think and eye drops that I remember clearly cos I was the only one who could calm him down enough to get them in at first, gradually he became an indoor cat and was very happy with us.

He lives with my mum now even though I offered to take him when I moved out - and she always said she never liked cats!
post #3 of 4
Definitely a stay cat - at least previously owned, if not currently. No feral cat would approach your door. You may want to put pics up around the neighborhood to see if it's anyone's cat.

If you put food out for him, please don't do it unless you intend to get kitty neutered or spayed. Also, if you put food out and kitty "friendlies" up enough to pet and such, please make sure to wash your hands before you do anything else. You have no idea what kitty has that may affect your cat. But if you get to that point, you can consider putting a break-away collar on the cat with a note with your phone number attached. That's an easy way to find out if a kitty has a home.

If kitty has no home and you want to adopt him/her, the cat MUST see a vet before you allow him/her inside. At the very least, the cat must be separated from your cat until you can get it to a vet. (Appropriate to separate for a proper introduction process anyway).
post #4 of 4
I wonder if Francis has been secretly crossing the border to visit all the TCS members!

Sounds very similar to my experience with him.

I put a collar with a note on him. When the note didn't go anywhere for two days, I figured he didn't have a home he was going to. Eventually, a neighbour took the note off and called me, concerned about Francis as well. Apparently he did show up at home with the collar (but no note) eventually, because, in the end, it was an ad on Kijiji that helped me figure out who his "owners" are. They must have seen the collar on him, wondered what was up, and checked Kijiji to see if there were any ads about it. Either that, or they are compulsive Kijiji checkers like me!
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