Due to abuse, neglect and abandonment, there are many unfortunate stray dogs and cats just left outside to fend for themselves. If you run across one, what are you to do? Here are some thoughts on helping cats. All my life, my pets have been strays found on the street. I cannot take anymore pets now, as I reached my limit of three, but have researched the issue, in case I run across a stray and need to help it.
Avoid going to shelters, because they are overcrowded and the pet may be put to death quickly if it is not claimed. I know this firsthand, when I took a cat in, thinking I was helping it, but when calling a few days later, they said it had been put to sleep due to not being claimed. They said this was normal procedure. I was heartbroken. This happened fifteen years ago, and I still kick myself for that situation.
There are "no-kill" agencies, but use even those as an absolute last resort.
Try using the site, Petfinder.com to find a foster home for the cat. It is a large site of many, many rescue agencies, who work hard to find homes for unwanted pets. I got a cat that way and the experience was pleasant. These people care about the well-being of animals and if they don't have room then ask them for referrals. A site you can also use is Catster.com , which is a general cat lovers' site. They show peoples' pets on their own webpages, but also give you the opportunity to make a page for the pet, free of charge, to find it a home. It gives great publicity for the pet, just register (free) and make sure to check the box saying "This pet needs a home."
Call your local ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). Every city has one, and they can offer ideas. Ask them what to do, and they will give you expert advice. They are there to help you and there is no cost. They can help you to get vet help if the cat is sick. It's a useful organization who has a variety of services available for the asking.
Keep the pet outside if you cannot have it in your house for any reason, or put it in your garage to keep him safe and warm during cold months. Put out food and water. Dry food and a little canned is good. Put a cardboard box somewhere dry, where he can sit in it, cats love boxes as much as life itself, and readily sleep in them. Catnip is always a nice touch, too. Get him a flea collar, especially if you live in a warm climate, where fleas are everywhere. Read the package for directions on how to use it, and follow them to avoid using it wrong.
Put up flyers on bulletin boards in your grocery store, or online, at Craigslist.com (big, free national bulletin board, just click on your city.) Include a photo and description, and a contact number. Tell friends and co-workers about the kitty's need for a home, maybe among them you will find a good home there. Keep trying. You are doing a big favor for a creature that cannot do it for himself.
Consider keeping the cat for yourself. I was diagnosed as being allergic to cats but that hasn't stopped me from having them my entire life. My body has built an immunity to the allergens in the cat dander. I no longer itch, sneeze or puff up. So, if you are allergic, do what I did and vacuum, brush the cat with a moist brush (to remove dander), and don't bury your nose in its fur unless you want a sneeze-fest afterward. Then, allow your immunity to grow as you give the scared kitty a desperately needed home. Be proud of yourself for being there for him. Don't give up, the love and happiness you receive will be worth it all in the end. And, if you do find a home for the kitty, he will grateful for your effort in his own way. Thanks for making a difference, and removing one more homeless pet from the street.
Carolyn McFann is a scientific and nature illustrator, who owns Two Purring Cats Design Studio, which can be seen at: http://www.zazzle.com/twopurringcats Educated at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, Carolyn is a seasoned, well-traveled artist, writer and photographer. She has lived and worked in Cancun, Mexico, among other interesting professional assignments in other countries. Clients include nature parks, museums, scientists, corporations and private owners. She has been the subject of tv interviews, articles for newspapers and other popular media venues.