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Published: Jan 11, 2013

Stray cats are not uncommon, and it can be heartbreaking to see a feline trying to live on his own. However, before you decide to take it upon yourself to raise a stray animal, you need to consider the safety of yourself, your family and the feline you are trying to help. Here are some things to keep in mind when making this decision.

Assessing the cat's behavior
Some stray cats may be eager to accept a human companion while others may prefer life on their own. If you find that a stray cat continually seeks you out for attention or affection, then you may want to consider adopting the animal. However, if the cat seems to be afraid of humans, or shows cat behavior problems like aggression, then you should think twice about bringing him into your home. This doesn't mean you have to let the cat fend for himself on the street - instead, you can alert animal control or a nearby animal shelter, and allow a professional to address the issue.

Adopting a stray cat
Speak to a veterinarian about adopting a stray cat before you decide to bring one into your home. The vet may be able to give you advice on how to go about introducing the cat to your home, or he or she might tell you to leave the cat alone or call an animal shelter. In any event, it's important to listen to your vet's suggestions, as he or she is medically trained to deal with felines, be they domesticated or stray.

If you do decide to bring a stray cat into your home, your first plan of action should be to take the animal to a vet hospital for a full checkup. There, a professional can check for cat fleas, ringworm in cats or any other illness the animal may have picked up while living on the streets. This is also a good time to talk about neutering or spaying a cat, as doing so could help cut down on the overpopulation of felines.

If you decide that raising a stray cat isn't a good choice but would still like to care for a pet, then you should consider adopting one from a local pet shelter. There are plenty of felines in need of a good home, and a cat who's been in an animal care facility will likely be quicker to adapt to a domestic lifestyle.