As I said, stray cats can make great pets, but they sometimes come with a number of health and behavior problems. Most will be infested with external and internal parasites, including fleas, ticks, and numerous types of worms. In addition, strays usually have not received any vaccinations and can carry a host of infectious diseases. These deadly diseases can all be spread from cat to cat through bites, saliva, or even by sharing food or mutual grooming. Taking in a stray without bringing it right to your veterinarian can, therefore, mean a death sentence for any cats you may already have at home. Strays might also have been injured by vehicles or by other animals at some time. Breaks, sprains, abscesses, eye disorders, internal injuries, or other structural problems can result, which can end up costing you plenty to treat. In addition, many strays become very cautious around people due to the hardships of the street. Often they remain this way for the rest of their lives, perhaps warming up to only a few people – you being one.
Although this all sounds ominous, don’t give up on strays. If you involve your veterinarian immediately and have no other pets, a stray just might work out fine. After all, any domestic animal tough enough to make it on the street deserves a second chance. For owners who have not had their cats neutered, a bevy of unwanted behaviors can pop up. Males will want to get outside and roam the neighborhood in search of females and to claim and defend what they perceive to be their territory. In doing so, they will almost certainly get into fights with other males, and run the risk of getting injured by a vehicle or infected with one of many will spray urine all over the home and most likely become quite vocal in his attempt to tell you he wants out.
Unneutered females allowed to venture outside will almost certainly become pregnant over and over and may also get into fights with other cats, both male and female. Like a male, she, too, could expose herself to injury or infection, possibly leading to death. If kept in the home, she will cry and perhaps mark with urine and leave spots of blood – all in all, every unhappy owner-pet relationship.
The drive to breed is a strong one among all unneutered cats. By the time a male or a female cat is 6 to 8 months old, it will begin showing an instinctive need to find a mate and will also become less playful and more competitive toward cats of its own gender.