I know that like human food, pet food should not be left out for free feeding; Especially in hot weather
My dogs pretty much eat all they’re going to eat within a few minutes. My cat, however, isn’t interested in wet food. He’ll eat a few bites, wander around and sometimes goes back for a nibble. Eventually, he turns his nose up at the food and seeks out my other cat’s dry food.
For the past 4 months or so, a feral cat has wandered around my backyard. I lured him close (he bolts the minute he hears me or the dogs near the back door) by leaving him some food on my deck so I could determine if he has a tipped ear. Then I felt bad for him, because it was winter in the northeast US and I felt leaving him a meal at night was the least I could do to help.
The thing is…I’ve read through forums and sites regarding strays and ferals that the feeders usually go out in the morning and around dusk to feed colonies. It’s like the cats are on schedule, which is the way it should be since they feed the cats and then clean up the mess afterwards. However, my wanderer visits at random hours of the night. Sometimes as early as 11PM and sometimes as late as 4AM and sometimes he returns a few times in between. And sometimes he doesn’t show up at all and I waste a can of food.
Since it’s been relatively cool weather wise, I wasn’t as concerned with the food spoiling. But now that summer may actually make an appearance, I know it’s not safe to leave food out all night. I have only seen this cat during the day twice: once when we jumped over the fence into my yard one morning (and in front of my dog who chased him back over) and another time where my dogs trapped him under my shed (once I called them inside, he took off). But I have a camera in my yard and he hasn’t visited during the day at any other times.
I’m trying to determine if he’s someone’s cat that they let out at night to hunt and wander or if he’s a stray that lives in a colony. I asked people in a FB feral community in my area if anyone knew of a known colony in my town. They won’t tell me because I may be asking for nefarious reasons. But this cat is so random. I don’t mind feeding him if he truly lives outdoors, but I don’t want to bother if he’s some irresponsible person’s pet.
The cat didn’t show the other day and a opossum showed up instead and ate the food. And he came early last night and I didn’t notice and did not return after I set out the food and my camera caught a blue jay eating the food this morning. I don’t want to run the risk of any animal eating food left in hot weather for any length of time. Does anyone have suggestions to get this cat to come earlier if it is a feral?
Why don’t you ask animal control if you can borrow a havahart trap, put the food in there and catch him.
They can scan him for a microchip, then you can figure out what you are dealing with and how to help him.
Animal control would know if anyone is missing a cat. If he is not feral, they will hold him for 10 days, and they will decide if he is adoptable and have him see the vet.
You may want to go around and ask your neighbors, sometimes they have a wanderer and don’t know it.
I noticed what I thought was a stray in my yard from time to time, no collar.
Turns out he lives down the street, owner didn’t realize he was going that far from the house.
I found out when I walked by one day and saw him lounging on their porch.
If it turns out he is not lost, but feral/unadoptable, you can google “cat sanctuaries” in your area, assuming that you can’t offer him a home.
Often if you make a decent donation you will be able to get him in somewhere. It would be a lot safer than living outdoors.
I did speak to animal control. I confirmed that his left ear was tipped and they told me 99% of the time that it’s a neutered feral cat. They don’t trap unless it’s for sterilization, not just to check for a microchip since the chance that it’s a pet is pretty slim. And they said that since the cat is bolting immediately upon seeing me, that he’s probably feral.
I guess, if anything, I can leave dry food out instead of wet. I have a deck box I can place it on top of (it prevented the opossum from getting at the food).
Hope this helps. Especially this part https://www.humanesociety.org/sites/default/files/docs/caring-feral-cats-overview.pdf
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