First and foremost, they do need food and water. In the cold especially, lots of food is critical for the cats as fighting cold takes extra energy. You can build or buy some shelters for them. In addition, try to befriend them to where they, or at least some, let you touch them. Some may be abandoned or lost tame house cats. If you have other pets, you also need to keep newcomers separate at first to avoid fights or possible transmission of diseases or parasites.
Then, take the new cat to the vet for a health check, and anything needed to fix up their health or parasite problem, if any. If the new cat is a tame cat, then you can keep it in your house while trying to find a home for it. My husband and I managed to find homes for 10 or so homeless cats by asking everyone we know socially, even if not on close terms, and everyone where we each work. Take a picture of the cat in need of a home and carry it around to help induce people to want it. People often say «No» just from your words asking, but if you show a cute picture of a cat, it makes many people really stop and think about it. Some cats took a few months of our fostering them until we found a home. Of course, we didn’t keep the cats in the bathroom all that time!
Once they used a litter box, we used our master bedroom for their «safe room», since we had our own cats and you can’t just all of sudden put a new cat into a group of other cats. Be sure to get any cat you get your hands on spayed or neutered! That’s the only way to stop more homeless cats from being born. That will help stop the cycle of suffering, homeless cats. Human trapping of cats information and instructions. Caring for and managing feral cats, with some info on trapping.
Many members are either in your situation, or are on the rescue end, and can advise and encourage you. So far, all the stray cats I rescued wound up being socialized to humans already, and were able to be «befriended» by my patiently getting them used to my presence as not being a threat. I really enjoy your site and would like to ask your opinion. I live in Arizona a we have a real bad feral cat problem in my neighborhood. The old lady next door feeds all of them and there is nothing I can do. Our yard and porch smells like cat urine- we can’t even open the windows on a nice day.
Now to make things worse, two of our house cats have died since moving in. It kills me to lose two very important members of our family because this woman has no respect for the neighborhood. I came home from work the other day and there were several cats on my roof. I can only estimate the colony is around 20-25. I will not allow them to fall sick as well. 70 a cat to get them fixed. They are still going to pee in my yard.
I understand it’s not the cats fault but I can’t even leave my house and that is not acceptable. Many stray cats in some areas is a problem. It is so sad for those poor cats. But I also understand it can become an irritation with the urine smell. If your cats were kept indoors, their deaths really can’t be due to the outside cats. What did your vet say their cause of death was from? Of course, if you did not have necropsies done, the vet can’t know for sure.
To protect you new cats, keep them indoors only, have them tested for FIV and FeLV. Kittens can be born with FeLV, or acquire it from nursing on an infected mother. Cat fights can be savage. Links to Arizona shelters and rescue groups. Free-roaming, primarily feral cats only. Havahart cat trap, shown above. Note to NEVER leave a set trap unattended! You also might trap opossums or even skunks by mistake. Note that you cannot trap a cat and then just dump it off someplace else.