Consequences of feeding stray cats

For many of the students that live here on campus, one of the greatest joys is walking outside and being greeted by the cats that roam around the buildings. Though it may be tempting to run to your cabinets to see what food you have for them, it is best not to feed the cats outside.

The cats around the apartment buildings have become tamer as the people in the apartments have fed them. Most of them are used to human contact and do not mind being pet by people. However, they have also gotten used to having their food handed to them. This creates a dependency on students to feed them instead of being able to hunt for their own food.

When students leave for the summer or for longer breaks there is no one to feed the cats. Therefore, they lose that easy food source. It may be hard to resist feeding  them, but it will help keep them alive in the winter when you are required to leave for break.

If they are dependent on you for food, then they will be forced to attempt to learn how to hunt for their own food when you are gone instead of learning as a kitten from their parents. This may result in a lot of cats starving during winter and summer breaks since they are quite a bit longer than other breaks.

As the younger cats are being taught that their main food source no longer requires hunting, we are creating an entire campus of cats that require us to feed them, which is rather problematic. None of this means that you should not attempt to make friends with the cats here on campus. Sitting outside and petting them can be a great stress reliever. However, there are easier ways to go about giving the cats affection instead of just feeding them.

For starters, instead of feeding them an entire meal, you can simply give them treats. Treats still create that same bond that the food would have while still forcing them to search for their own food when they get hungry. Buying a bag of treats will also be cheaper than buying enough cat food to feed all of the cats around the apartments.

Another option is purchasing some cat toys from the store. Most of the cats outside are fairly playful. Buying a few toys and sitting outside to play with them will, again, help build that trust so that they will feel comfortable with you petting them.

Finally, be patient with the cats. Just like all other friendships in your life, it is going to take time for them to build up enough trust for you. Attempting to rush that process can cause harm to both sides involved.

Feeding them may seem like the quickest option to earn their affection, but it may cost them their lives when you have to leave. Look into other productive ways to befriend the cats outside of your buildings.