what to feed a stray cat without cat food?

Alternatives to Cat Food

Feeding stray cats can be a fulfilling endeavor, but it's not always easy to provide them with the necessary nutrition. While commercial cat food is the ideal choice, there are instances when it may not be readily available. In such situations, it's important to be resourceful and find alternative options to ensure that these stray cats stay healthy. In this article, we will explore various safe and wholesome food choices that you can offer to stray cats when cat food is not readily accessible.

Safe Food for Stray Cats

what to feed a stray cat without cat food

When considering what to feed a stray cat without cat food, it's crucial to prioritize their safety and well-being. Remember that cats have specific dietary requirements, and it's important to provide them with a balanced and nutritious diet.

Here are some safe food options for stray cats:

  • Lean Meat: Cooked lean meat, such as chicken or turkey, can be offered to stray cats. Ensure the meat is boneless and free from any seasoning or spices.
  • Fish: Boiled or baked fish without any seasoning can also be a good source of nutrition for stray cats. However, avoid feeding them raw fish as it may contain harmful bacteria or parasites.
  • Eggs: Cooked eggs are another option to consider. They can provide a good source of protein for stray cats. Make sure the eggs are fully cooked and do not use any oil or butter while cooking them.
  • Rice: Plain boiled rice can be mixed with lean meat or fish to create a balanced meal for stray cats. Rice provides carbohydrates and can be a filling option for them.
  • Vegetables: Some cats may enjoy small portions of cooked vegetables, such as carrots or peas. However, it's important to remember that cats are obligate carnivores and their main source of nutrition should come from animal-based proteins.

Non-commercial Diet for Feral Cats

When dealing with feral cats, who are stray cats that have minimal or no contact with humans, it's important to understand their unique needs. Feral cats may have a more limited diet due to their environment and circumstances.

Here are some non-commercial diet options for feral cats:

  • Raw Diet: Some feral cat caretakers opt for a raw diet, which consists of raw meat, bones, and organs. This requires careful preparation and knowledge about feline nutrition.
  • Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) Programs: If you are caring for a feral cat colony, consider getting involved in a TNR program. These programs can provide guidance and resources for feeding feral cats in a safe and sustainable manner.
  • Community Support: Reach out to local animal shelters or rescue organizations for assistance. They may have programs in place to help provide food and resources for feral cats in your area.

Wholesome Food Choices for Strays

Stray cats often rely on the kindness of humans for their survival. It's important to make wholesome food choices that prioritize their health and well-being.

Here are some food options to consider:

  • Wet Food Alternative: If you are unable to access cat food, consider offering wet food alternatives such as canned tuna in water or chicken broth. These options can provide hydration and some nutrition to stray cats.
  • Bone Broth: Homemade bone broth can be a nutritious option for stray cats. It provides hydration and can be made from bones leftover from meals or from chicken or beef bones.
  • Commercial Cat Food Samples: Some pet stores or veterinary clinics may provide samples of cat food. These samples can be a temporary solution to feed stray cats while you find a more sustainable option.
  • Fruits: In small quantities, some cats may enjoy fruits like watermelon or cantaloupe. However, keep in mind that cats are obligate carnivores, and fruits should not be a significant part of their diet.

Homemade Food for Strays

If you have the time and resources, preparing homemade food for stray cats can be a great way to ensure they receive proper nutrition.

Here are some homemade food options to consider:

  • Homemade Wet Food: You can prepare homemade wet food using ingredients like cooked meat, blended vegetables, and a small amount of cooked grains (if needed). Avoid using seasoning or spices.
  • Homemade Treats: Bake homemade treats using cat-friendly ingredients such as canned tuna or cooked chicken. These treats can be given in moderation as a nutritious snack.
  • Supplements: Consult with a veterinarian to determine if any supplements are necessary to ensure the homemade diet provides all the essential nutrients for the stray cats.

Feeding Stray Cats on a Budget

Feeding stray cats doesn't have to be expensive. If you're on a budget, there are still ways to provide them with wholesome meals.

Here are some tips:

  • Buy in Bulk: Look for deals or discounts on bulk purchases of lean meat or fish. This can help reduce the overall cost of feeding stray cats.
  • Local Markets: Check with local markets or farmers' markets for affordable options on fresh produce that can be used to supplement the stray cats' diet.
  • Food Sharing: Coordinate with friends, neighbors, or local community groups to share the cost of feeding stray cats. By pooling resources, you can provide a more varied and nutritious diet for them.
  • Home Cooking: Cooking in bulk and portioning meals can be a cost-effective way to provide homemade meals for stray cats. Use affordable ingredients while ensuring they meet the necessary nutritional requirements.

Stray Cat Nutrition Tips

Here are some additional tips to consider when feeding stray cats:

  • Always provide fresh and clean water alongside their meals to ensure they stay hydrated.
  • Monitor their overall health and weight. If you notice any changes or signs of illness, consult a veterinarian.
  • If possible, consider getting involved in spaying/neutering programs to control the stray cat population and improve their overall well-being.
  • Establish a feeding routine to ensure the stray cats can rely on a consistent source of food.
  • Remember that not all human foods are safe for cats. Avoid feeding them anything toxic, such as chocolate, onions, or grapes.

Feeding Community Cats without Store-Bought Food

what to feed a stray cat without cat food

Feeding community cats, which include feral cats and stray cats, is a collective effort that often involves the participation of multiple individuals.

Here are some ways to feed community cats without relying on store-bought cat food:

  • Coordinate with Neighbors: Engage with your neighbors and encourage them to contribute to a communal feeding station for community cats.
  • Food Donations: Reach out to local businesses, pet stores, or veterinary clinics to inquire about donations of cat food or other resources for community cats.
  • Create a Feeding Schedule: Establish a schedule where different individuals take turns providing meals for the community cats. This ensures a consistent source of food for them.
  • Community Fundraising: Organize fundraisers or crowdfunding campaigns to collect funds for purchasing cat food or supporting spaying/neutering programs.


Feeding stray cats without access to cat food may require some creativity and resourcefulness, but it's entirely possible to ensure their nutritional needs are met. By considering safe and wholesome alternatives, preparing homemade meals, and engaging with the community, we can make a significant difference in the lives of these stray cats. Remember to prioritize their health and well-being, and always consult with a veterinarian for additional guidance and advice.