When does a stray cat become part of the family?

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So I have this little dilemma and need your help.

There aren’t very many stray animals in our neighborhood.  Most pets that do wander from home have a collar and can easily be reunited with their families.   For a few months, we’ve had a little orange visitor on our doorstep. It all started on a sunny afternoon when my husband sent the kids up for a can of tuna.  Knowing that he must have found a cat to feed, I sent one down.  The kids have been asking for a cat for years, but hubby and I keep saying no because we don’t want to deal with (a) a litter box or (b) the cat hair.  So what was going on? Sure enough, they were feeding a stray cat.  The poor thing was emaciated and obviously very hungry.  After eating his fill, the cat didn’t reappear for a while.  Then one rainy night he (she?) took shelter on our porch.

Of course, we fed the cat again.  And again. And again.

When does a stray cat become an official part of the family?

So what I really want to know is, when does a stray cat become an official part of the family?

I’ve bought food for the cat.

The cat visits nearly every day.

The kids LOVE the cat and have given it a name (Snuffy Dreamsicle).

The cat likes to sit under my chair when we’re outside.

When does a stray cat become part of the family?

We don’t know if it’s a girl or a boy.  We don’t think it has a home because it looks like we’re the only ones feeding it.  We’re not trying to steal the cat from its owners.  All we know is, we feel led to take the cat to the vet and get its shots/checkup if it’s going to be ours.  To be honest, we’ve all become quite attached to Snuffy.

Actually, I think Snuffy adopted US.

So what do you think?  Are we okay to take Snuffy to the vet?




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  1. It became yours the first day you fed it. By all means get it to the vet and get it fixed. If it’s female and not fixed you are going to have kittens. If it is male and not fixed it is going to spray. If it is living outside it needs a rabies shot at the least. Most towns have low cost spay/neuter clinics and places for shots if that’s an issue. I know it is for me with my four. Three of which are strays which found me just as Snuffy found you….

  2. Yes, take it to the vet. We have a stray in our area. The family puts up “lost cat” signs and then never takes care of it once we give him back. It’s sad.

  3. Take it to the vet! You’ve basically already become family. 🙂 So adorable and you’d be giving him/her a good home.
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  4. Sherry Compton says:

    Yes, take it to the vet. If you are feeding it regularly, I would say go for it. Snuffy wants to be yours and keeps coming back. Once the kids name a pet…you’re gone. They’ve already decided Snuffy is yours and obviously Snuffy wants to be, too. Hope you want a cat now because you have one. 🙂 I think it’s great that you want to take Snuffy to the vet and give your new kitty a responsible and loving home.

  5. I would say it’s yours. The kids have named it and your already buying food for it so I’m sure it’s claimed your house as it’s home. At this point just warn the kids that it’s “yours” but for a few months there is a chance it could disappear back to different owners.

  6. I think the cat becomes a part of your family when she adopts you! She just loves you and wants to stay forever.

  7. Take it to the vet to see if he/she is chipped. That way you’ll know if the previous owners were serious about keeping it!
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  8. My parents have gotten a few cats as strays. Once actually just walked in their house and made himself at home. By that night he was sleeping in their bed.

  9. As cats are massive wandres, I do think you should check around first to make sure it doesn’t belong to anyone. Although, it sure seems like it doesn’t.

  10. I think if he hasn’t had anyone claim him then he’s yours! He’s a beauty!

  11. Sherry Compton says:

    What happened with Snuffy? Is the cat a part of your family? A special Kitty Valentine’s treat planned? 🙂

    I know that animals can choose you and quickly become a part of your family. Hope this all worked out for you.

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