Feeding stray cats is a whole new other ball-game compared to feeding your own cats. Here are the considerations.
Stray cats are less likely than house cats to have a constant supply of drinking water.
Feeding stray cats is not illegal, but littering is. Dispensing food for strays is different from simply pouring food into a bowl for your own cat; you will need to bring-your-own ‘bowl’ and clear up after.
Large cat population
It would be safe to assume that there are more stray cats in your community than there are in your home. Because of the sheer quantity of food consumed by stray cats, cost is an issue; value-for-money, bulk quantities, are all key pointers for stray cat feeders. Cat owners think about budget too, but are likely to be more concerned about nutrition.
Because of these pointers there are a few standard practices that stray cat feeders have.
Firstly, if dry food is fed, water is usually dispensed alongside it. This means that the feeder needs to have a proper feeding and watering station for the strays, where the water is constantly cleared away or changed to prevent mosquito breeding and littering. It means more work logistically.
Dry food contains more nutrition than canned food, moisture content aside. It is healthier especially for cats who are pregnant, young or nursing, or ill, or injured.
If canned food is fed, it is because it is more filling for the cat, and also contains more moisture content for the cat. It also smells stronger and will lure the shy but hungry cats to come out and eat more.
Dispensing dry food is easier; picking up kibbles left over by the cat can be done with your bare hands.
Dispensing canned food means you will want to have a clean sheet of plastic or paper to feed the cat from, and thereafter clearing the paper to prevent littering. If you feed canned food directly on the floor it is harder to clear up after, so make sure the cat eats everything you dispense, to prevent littering and pest problems. Different logistics involved here.
The cheapest dry food sold at Angels is A Pro at $60 for 20kg. The cheapest canned food in the shop is Fussie Cat 400gm at $24 for 24 cans. Weight to weight comparison, canned food is actually cheaper but you will need to dispense more per feeding because most of canned food’s content is moisture. You might likely spend more on canned food than on dry food when feeding strays. Another option would be cooking your own food, time-consuming but possibly cheaper, if you buy fresh food from a market.
As for me? Not being a regular stray feeder myself, I usually feed strays with the food from my home, Royal Canin Fit 32, as we buy it in 15kg quantities. I would have to add that stray cats actually like the taste of this food very much! I find that feeding dry food is easier and less messy. Dry food is more nutritious and considering I usually only feed the infirmed, young or disadvantaged, I find it a better choice for me. I also bear in mind what the main cat feeders are feeding – Auntie Can feeds lots of canned food every night – so I do know that the cats in my zone have enough water already. There are also rainwater receptacles outside some Ubi shops (used by shop owners for washing) that cats drink from, and some parts of our zone has feeding and watering stations where water bowls are set up and changed daily by the feeders. Auntie Rose feeds both canned food and dry food. So our zone’s cats are quite balanced in their diets in general.
I never thought about all these considerations much until recently; but it is pretty much about unspoken common sense. Writing these considerations down, I had in mind readers who are keen on feeding stray cats as part of your community involvement but are not sure where to start or how to continue sustainably. Also, feeding cats should be an enjoyment, not a chore or an unwelcome burden, hence I factored in pointers on the preferences of the feeder – for cleanliness, costs, logistics.