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Do you have a stray Tom coming into your backyard every now and then? If the wandering kitty isn’t afraid of you, then it’s probably a stray cat; a cat who once had contact with humans and may now be lost or abandoned.
Otherwise, the kitty coming to your yard may otherwise be someone else’s cat who is often let outdoors, or it is quite possible s/he may be a feral cat.
Regardless if the visiting cat is a stray or a feral cat, there are some things you can do to help him/her live a healthier, happier life. For starters, let’s discuss what is the best cat food for strays (or any visiting cat) and how to best take care of them.
What Determines a Stray Cat?
Don’t know whether the wandering cat is a stray or feral cat? Strays are usually lost or abandoned cats who are used to human contact (in most cases).
Feral cats, on the other hand, are cats who were born “wild.” They basically grew up fending for themselves out in nature, with little to no contact with human love.
What does this mean?
Since stray cats are used to human contact and are used to being fed, this means if you do not feed them when they’re starving, who will?
Many strays come to human homes in order to be fed. Feeding strays is a compassionate choice. ❤️
What to Feed a Stray Cat
Type of food to give stray/feral cats
If you do not have a cat and therefore have no cat food in the house, do not abandon ship. You can quickly whip up some plain cooked chicken and rice for stray cats in the meantime.
Plain rice and simple chicken is actually a great meal for your little friend. Here are more ideas if you don’t have cat food on hand.
The best cat food for strays doesn’t have to be top dollar. There are cheap brands of cat food available on Amazon and in virtually any market. While food is better than starving, try to avoid buying the lowest of the low of cat foods.
There are quality cat food brands that might just be an extra dollar or two or three, but you’ll be doing a lot of good for the stray’s health.
However, if you do have cats in the household, then you’ll already have some cat food to offer the hungry stray.
A good quality food, either dry or wet (canned) will do just fine. Just make sure to pay attention to the number one ingredient.
Avoid meat by-products as the first ingredient. Also, avoid cat food that has grains (like corn meal) listed as the top 1-3 ingredients.
Giving the Best Cat Food to Strays (on a budget)
It’s highly probable that most people are unlikely to buy expensive, high-quality cat food just to feed the stray(s) that show up now and then at their house!
We understand what it’s like to be on a budget. So spending extra cash that you don’t have on a wandering kitty is just not on people’s priority list. We get it.
This is why we suggest two of the best dry and wet cat food options on a budget that offers stray and/or feral cats a healthy balanced and nutritious meal without breaking the bank.
|Fancy Feast||$||24, 3-ounce cans||Real meat as the first ingredients (Chicken, broth, chicken, liver..)|
Balanced, nutritious option
|Purina ONE ||$-$$||16 lb bag||Real meat #1 ingredient, no soy, corn, or wheat|
The best for your buck
Fancy Feast is a popular and cheap brand of cat food that is helpful for feeding stray cats. The juicy wet paté ensures optimal moisture intake for strays while enticing them to eat. A pack of 24 cans (3 oz.) will cost you around $15.
Purina ONE offers healthy nutrition at an affordable price and is a popular dry cat food choice for cat owners. We used to feed Yoda with Purina ONE before transitioning to Blue Buffalo. For a hefty 16-pound bag, you’ll only pay around $20.
(Click images to see pricing detail and customer reviews).
What Not to Give Strays
Many people make the mistake of thinking that stray cats (because they are living off nature mainly) can or will eat anything given to them.
Please note that this is incorrect. You could actually pose a bigger health risk to the stray if you were to offer him/her human foods that cats cannot eat.
For more info, check out our article on human foods that cats CAN eat.
Do not give up on the stray. The stray or feral cat may depend on the nutrition that you provide. Many strays are not used to hunting and catching their own food like perhaps their feral cousins are, so, therefore, you can expect a stray to stick around and keep returning to be fed.
Extra Tips: Feeding Stray or Feral Cats
Cleanliness is key. It’s important to not just throw out food to the stray cat assuming they will know where to find the scattered bits. Rather, you should provide clean bowls for both food and water.
Keep Food & Water Bowls Clean + Fresh
Any bowl will do fine, but the number one rule is to clean it daily, or even several times a day. Place the bowls somewhere where adverse weather conditions cannot reach.
Always provide fresh, clean water. Bowls get slimy and sitting water can gather mosquito eggs and other unwanted bacteria or critters.
Also, do not “top up” fresh food onto food that has already been sitting (dry or wet). If you notice the cat is not eating all of the proportions you provide then consider providing a little less.
Extend a Helping Hand – Err, Paw to Strays in Need
Love & be loved: A stray/feral cat is just like your cat but one that is not receiving any human love. But you can change that!!
Reach Out to the Community and/or Animal Shelter
If the cat is adoptable, consider speaking to the local animal shelter and getting them spayed or neutered. By doing so, you can help prevent unwanted cat pregnancies. You don’t want an extra litter of kittens to take care of!
Lastly, consider helping the stray find a forever home! (Maybe your home???) 🙂 Many animal shelters have supportive Facebook groups where you can post about your stray cat.
Helping Feral Cats Is Important Too
If you’re feeding a scared feral cat (who is not used to human contact), it will be harder to find this cat a permanent home. Feral cats are also unlikely to be spayed or neutered. If you can help control the pet population by trapping the feral to get spayed or neutered, you would be doing the community a great service!
Feral cats, if trapped and submitted for care at a shelter, are likely to be scared and very unaccustomed to human contact. For answers to frequently asked questions regarding strays and/or feral cats, visit the US humane society’s website.
Final Thoughts: Best Cat Food for Strays
Remember, strays can be helped more than by the food that you give them. Most strays are adoptable cats who are yearning to be loved again! When possible, do more than just feed a stray. Offer him a warm bed to sleep in, too! ❤️
Most importantly, let’s spread awareness of the great importance of spaying/neutering cats, whether it’s your indoor pet, the traveling tom, or a feral. There are many ways you can help!
Thanks for your support with Fluffy Kitty!
Brittany, Paul, and Yoda =(^^)=