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For 2 to 3 months, a cat who seems to me to be fairly clean has been hanging out in my garden; the first few days I didn't want to give him anything to eat or drink so that he wouldn't come back. After a while (2 or 3 weeks), I thought to myself that he must be very hungry, so I started to feed him. Now I don't know what to do with him, because he doesn't want to leave. He hardly goes out, but he's not stuck--I saw him climb the garden wall several times, go to the next door neighbors and come back. He spends 95% of his time in my garden, whether during night or day. I don't know what to do with him anymore.

I am in France.

I posted ads on social media in groups of lost animals in the area where I live, but no one called me. I wanted to keep it at first, but since I have a 3 month old newborn, I don't want to take any risk--I don't know where he was hanging out before this, or if he has any illnesses....

Should I continue to feed him or should I stop?

I contacted an association, and they told me that they cannot take it, and that we must stop feeding it, but is it humane to do that?

Can you please help me find a solution?

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    Welcome to pets.SE! There is a phrase in my country "A good cat has minimum two families, who think the cat is theirs". This is a typical behavior of cats :) – Allerleirauh May 10 at 11:48
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    @Allerleirauh may be he had two families in the past, but not now, he remains seated in front of the garden gate, and as I do homeoffice, I see him all day sitting there, he goes from time to time to poop, pee ... and he returns to his place. and even when I wake up at night to meet the needs of the baby, he is still there – Dhon Joe May 10 at 15:04
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    If you think, an answer is helpful for your question, then please vote for it. And if the answer solved your problem, please mark it with the small gray/green hook :) – Allerleirauh May 12 at 5:22
  • From your profile: 0 votes cast; from this Q&A: no accepted answer. What is the problem with existing answers? – lila May 12 at 14:17
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Concerning the question whether to feed the cat or not: It's the common advice of all animal welfare organizations to not feed any stray animals. Offering water is ok, but you should not offer food.

Stories like this have repeated over and over and over, and they will repeat again and again and again.

People find a stray cat and have pity on them and offer food. The cat comes daily to eat. Some other stray cat sees this and comes to eat, too. Most of the times at least one of them is female and gets pregnant. Suddenly there are 6 strays cats to feed. The female (or any of her daughters) gets pregnant again, because spaying all of them is expensive. Before you know it, there are 20 or more cats around you, because you started to feed a single one of them.

In countries where stray cats are euthanized, that means instead of a single cat, a whole lot more cats lose their lives. In countries where euthanasia is forbidden, the cats overwhelm the animal welfare system. Most of them wouldn't have been born if it weren't for the food a well-meaning human left them. There's a saying here: "Well meant is the opposite of well done".

Another classic is: People start feeding a stray cat. A few years later they want or need to move to a different house. The cat has stayed mostly feral (cannot be brought to the new house) but now it's become dependant on the food. This site is full of these and similar stories.

Cats are good hunters and they also find food in dumpsters and other places. The cat in your garden will not starve if you stop feeding it.

If you already contacted an association, please ask them if they will bear the cost (or at least part of it) of neutering the cat. Neutering is the only humane solution for stray cats. Feeding them and thereby contributing to breeding even more stray cats is not humane.

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  • Thank you for your comment, I accept your answer, and I will see if it is possible to neuter the cat. – Dhon Joe Jun 8 at 8:47
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You think that the cat spends 95% of the time in your garden, but cats are extremely efficient with schedules. There is a good chance he knows approximately when you check the garden and tries to be there when you do. It might be because you feed him or it might be because he likes you and wants to be petted by you. Whatever it is, there is still some chance he has a family but prefers to spend some time with you.

For this purpose, and to prevent an accidental catnapping, you can attach a collar to the animal. You can either attach a paper collar, i.e., just a regular paper with your details on it and tape it around his neck, or buy an easy break collar and attach your note on the collar. Make sure that the paper collar is not too thick otherwise the animal might strangle himself if it get caught by a fence or a branch. Easy break collars are sold for £2-3 in UK. The prices should be similar in France.

In UK, many wandering cats are microchipped so you can contact a vet. If there the cat is microchipped, the vet can contact the last owners on your behalf and start working out how to take care of the cat.

If you cannot contact an owner even after attaching a collar and checking for a microchip, you can still take care of the cat in your garden. Stray animals are well adjusted to the elements and they can survive in your garden, depending on the winter temperatures. You can attach a catflap on a garden shed door if you have one. If you want this to be a long term investment, you can get a microchip activated cat flaps, which should be around £50 in UK. This will make sure that the cat flap will only be activated for your cat and he will be perfectly safe from other cats and other similar sized predators.

Even if you don't have a shed, you can buy a small cat house or turn a simple cardboard box to a cat house. Make sure that it is isolated from the floor with a rug or styrofoam blocks and it has a metal or wooden roof so that it won't get wet if it rains. Adult cats are surprisingly durable against cold as long as they are not wet and they are fed well. Put an old sweater in it for your cat to cuddle for warmth. If you want your cat to be extra cosy, you can get a USB heating pad. They are relatively cheap and since they operate at 5V, there is very small chance of an incidence.

I am not knowledgeable on how cats might attack/hurt a newborn, so you might want to ask this as a separate question if you decide to keep him in your house.

I hope this helps.

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