Q: The stray cat below my block is sweet and gentle, and allows me to handle her and bring her to the vet when she’s unwell. I am thinking of adopting her but have concerns about how she might react in a home environment after roaming outdoors for so long. How do I ease her into becoming a house cat? Q: The stray cat below my block is sweet and gentle, and allows me to handle her and bring her to the vet when she’s unwell. I am thinking of adopting her but have concerns about how she might react in a home environment after roaming outdoors for so long. How do I ease her into becoming a house cat?
A: Before bringing your resident stray cat home, prepare basic cat necessities, such as a litterbox and scratching posts. Keep her in a quiet room with all these resources for the first few days to ease her into the “home environment”—do not put her in a cage during this period. If she decides to hide, let her be. Do not pull her out of her hiding place. Instead, sit in the room with your “new” kitty and try using tasty treats to coax her to come out on her own. Allow her to explore the rest of the house when she appears comfortable within the room. Supervise her during the first few weeks, bearing in mind that everything at home is foreign to her—she has never seen things like vacuum cleaners and washing machines!
The next step is to bring the great outdoors into your home. The outside world is an exciting place for curious felines, so you need to make sure that your home is equally stimulating. Bored cats often turn to eating to keep themselves occupied, thus becoming obese. Compensate for a small floor area with shelves. Mount them on the wall to create vertical spaces for Puss to climb and explore, as cats love high places to rest and observe their environment. You can also consider mounting the shelves next to your windows, so she can bird-watch. However, ensure that the windows are meshed so there is no risk of your cat jumping or falling out. Another way to keep your feline stimulated is using puzzle feeders, as it makes Puss work for her food, thereby mimicking the natural behaviour of wild cats hunting and wrestling their prey before eating.
Discourage your newly adopted cat from scratching furniture by placing scratching posts in hotspots like her feeding and sleeping areas, next to furniture pieces, and parts of the home that she frequently passes by. Cardboard scratchers are preferred by most cats.
Lastly, it might be a good idea to put up notices in the vicinity announcing that you have adopted the neighbourhood cat, as there may be others watching out for her. When a stray cat goes missing, people usually assume the worst—that they got injured, got into an accident, or removed by the authorities due to complaints.