What To Feed Stray Cats?

What To Feed Stray Cats
Image: istockphoto.com / nkeskin

Stray cats are normally seen in public areas such as parks or back streets. These cats are usually lost or abandoned and have been socialized with humans before. However, they may become feral cats if they have been homeless and in the wild for a while. 

Whether to feed stray cats is an ongoing debate and it does have its pros and cons which we have discussed at length in our article is it bad to feed stray cats.

What to feed stray cats?

If you choose to do so you may feed stray cats with regular high-calorie cat food or canned tuna and also put out a bowl of fresh and clean water for them. Dry cat food is also recommended although this tends to attract other animals like possums, skunks and raccoons. To avoid this, you can place dry cat food during the daytime and remove it during nighttime. You can also feed the cat some human foods as explained in more detail below.

What happens if you feed stray cats?

While you only have good intentions with feeding stray cats, it may not be a good idea to feed them.  This is because one or more of the following scenarios may happen:

  • these stray cats will keep coming back to your home, lawn, or yard 
  • their presence may annoy the neighbors 
  • they may overpopulate 
  • they may be carriers of diseases

Once you start feeding stray cats there is a tendency that these cats will bring along more cats to your yard. Also, because they are given high-calorie cat food it may lead to a higher reproduction rate and larger litter. Not to mention the irate neighbors who resent these stray cats in the neighborhood.  Some cities and communities may even have ordinances and laws against feeding stray cats.  

Dr. Patty Khuly, a veterinarian from South Miami, recommends that if you intend to feed stray cats regularly then you should have them fixed. A good way to do this is to avail of the trap-neuter-rescue or TNR programs of local animal rescue groups in your area.  This way, the local stray cat population will be manageable.

You should also keep the stray cats in your yard if you intend to feed them regularly. You can make an outdoor litter box that they can use so they may not venture to other people’s yards. Make sure that you do not leave uneaten food out. You may also tell your neighbors to place cat deterrents in their areas like lemon peels and pans filled with vinegar so the cats won’t go near their houses. 

Also, since stray cats have been uncared for by pet owners, they may tend to be infested with parasites and may even have rabies. You may seek the help of your local pet shelter or rescue group to have them vaccinated, dewormed, and treated for fleas. 

Human foods that you can feed to stray cats

Human foods that you can feed to stray cats 
Image: istockphoto.com / ablokhin

Stray cats hunt for local wildlife consisting mostly of rodents and small mammals like mice, rabbits, and squirrels. They also eat lizards, birds, and fish. 

If you are feeding stray cats, these are human foods that you can feed them if you do not have any canned cat food available:


Eggs are good sources of Vitamin B and protein and are safe to feed for cats. It may also help reduce the risk of foodborne diseases and should be cooked first before feeding to cats. 


Cats mainly eat meat since they are obligate carnivores, thus, chicken is a good choice for them. Unlike dogs, cats are not able to digest high-fiber foods which is why they should be served preferably with cooked meat and poultry. 


Turkey is a good source of protein and this lean meat is a good cat snack or treat for cats. 


Oatmeal is another human food that is suitable for cats. It is a good source of energy and Vitamin B and is safe for cats. However,  some cats may not like the taste or texture of oatmeal. 


Cats like to eat fish and stray cats may even catch it themselves from waterways or riverbanks.  You can give them cooked salmon which is a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids.  You may also check out our earlier article on why cats like fish.

Other human food and meals that you can feed to stray cats:

  • boiled vegetable mash 
  • rice, lentils, and ground liver
  • rice and baked potatoes 
  • yogurt 
  • chicken broth with rice 
  • pumpkin and oats mash 


You may feed stray cats with canned cat food or dry cat food and you should also place a bowl of fresh and clean water for them to drink. Foods for humans that are safe to feed cats include boiled fish and chicken, bread, and oatmeal.  While there are communities that are against the idea of feeding stray cats, you can still responsibly feed and care for them by having them fixed with the help of your local animal rescue groups.