In 2021, a media report revealed that there are 6.2 crore stray dogs and close to 1 crore stray cats in India. And many of them were dying of malnutrition. A ray of hope in the dire situation is the animal welfare organizations who provide food and care to neglected strays; and the people who volunteer to give food to the strays near their residence at their own expense.
If you are contemplating feeding the strays in your neighbourhood, here is a detailed list of dos and don’ts you need to keep in mind:
5 points to remember before feeding strays
1. Be consistent
Providing food for strays is a job that needs you to be responsible. So, refrain from undertaking the task if you are not going to be consistent. Animals become perplexed when you stop feeding them, especially puppies and kittens. It can trigger anxiety in them and can also lead to many complex physiological problems. So, if you are planning to feed strays, be consistent.
2. Understand their dietary needs
Just like domesticated animals, strays also have specific dietary requirements that need to be met. So, before choosing to feed strays, surf through the internet or talk to an animal dietician about the dietary need of the animals. Providing food for stray dogs and cats according to their diet will enable them to have good health.
3. Choose the right spot
Animals are accustomed to a routine. Choose a spot where you can feed them every day. Select a calm and quiet place for feeding strays. Also, avoid places that have kids or old people because strays get excited seeing food. So, they might act in an abrasive manner that might scare children and the elderly.
4. Understand pack mentality
Animals have packs—a group of their species who roam around together. They find food together, protect each other, and look after one another in hard times. So, having a full understanding of the types of animal packs in and around your residence will avert a violent fight between the packs.
For the unversed, animals are very protective of their pack. So, they get defensive as soon as they sense danger. Also, they are very possessive about their food, and sharing it with another pack is something they are not open to.
5. Be calm and still
Stray animals, especially dogs, get very excited when they smell food. So, never throw food at them from a moving vehicle. It will endanger the life of the stray, as they will start chasing other vehicles in the hope of getting food. This can turn fatal. Instead, find a spot you’re comfortable with and leave the food there. Be calm if they jump at your feet, and firmly tell them “no” if you don’t want to engage.
What to feed to stray dogs and cats?
Here are some suggestions for feeding strays animals in your locality.
- Meat: Stray animals loves meat. However, providing meals with meat every time can be expensive. So, you can give the stray leftover meat parts like lungs or chicken feet.
- Rice: Stray animals, especially dogs, can have boiled rice. Many veterinarians recommend boiled rice and chicken for sick and recovering dogs. So, it is safe to feed stray animals rice.
- Boiled vegetables: Vegetables like carrot, sweet potato, and pumpkin are rich in nutrients and antioxidants. Hence, giving strays boiled vegetables is a good choice.
While feeding strays, remember to avoid dairy, wheat products, and sweet foods. These can harm the animals and can even prove to be fatal. Finally, always remember that feeding stray animals is important, but feeding them the right food is even more crucial.