Avoid Stray Cat Syndrome
Posted on: August 7, 2015

A couple of years ago, my wife and I were out walking one evening, something we do rather regularly when the weather is reasonable. A few blocks from home, we heard the mewing of a cat. We stopped to try and determine where it might be coming from and in a matter of seconds the cat walked out from some bushes. I reached down and scratched it behind the ear a bit, then we went on our way.

Want to guess what happened next? Yep, kitty followed us all the way home. It didn’t have a collar but was obviously not an outdoor cat. He was very affectionate as well as hungry. I poured a little food into a dish for him and that was that.

You know what happens when you feed a stray cat? I mean, aside from Brian Setzer playing guitar in your driveway.

That’s right, boys and girls, Jimmy got a new cat. Now, don’t get me wrong, it all worked out. Vinnie is an absolutely beautiful Maine coon and is, hands down, the softest cat on the planet.

But, I also knew going in that if I fed the kitty, he wasn’t likely to leave. I knew that and accepted the responsibility.

[For those wondering, we did our due diligence in trying to locate the cat’s owner. We took Vinnie to our vet and found he was microchipped (and also learned his given name). Vet tried to contact the owner several times, leaving messages and such, but received no response. Apparently Vinnie was abandoned when the owner moved.]

Stray Cat Syndrome is this same principle applied to people. If you feed them, they aren’t likely to leave willingly. Look, I’m all about paying it forward and trying to help folks as best I can. The problem, though, is charity can lead to issues, especially if we’re talking about a time period after a major collapse.

I would hazard to guess that it will only be a matter of time before you’re approached by someone in need in the aftermath of a big event. Someone who for one reason or another has no food or water and might likely perish without help. If you have anything approaching a soul in your body, you’ll want to do something to assist, especially if there are children involved. But, if you start handing out food and drink, where do you stop, where do you draw the line? In other words, how do you prevent the strays from trying to become house cats?

Sure, the threat of violence might work and it may very well come to that point. But, perhaps you can get out ahead of the problem before it becomes an issue.

I know some of you reading this are of the opinion that you should never, under any circumstances, share your stuff with an unknown person. I’m not going to argue the point with you one way or the other. But, there are many folks reading this who will, for right or wrong, try to help those less fortunate. The remainder of this article is for them.

If you are compelled to lend a hand to those in need, do so with both eyes wide open and fully recognize the risks. Keep in mind, the person receiving the aid will remember you. And it might not be some sort of fond recollection like, “Yeah, we were really desperate and starving. Then this nice family blessed us with a meal and some supplies, just enough to get us to the next town.” More likely, it’ll be, “Yep, I know exactly where we can go to grab some food. The daughter is quite a looker, too.”

One way to avoid that from happening is to devise some way of donating anonymously. For example, instead of handing out goodies on your doorstep, direct those in need to the church in town. “I’ve been hearing how some of the folks in town are setting up care packages there.” Of course, it is you who might have positioned the supplies there but the person doesn’t need to know that. The idea here, of course, is to direct attention away from you and your family and toward a nameless and faceless entity that might provide some aid to those who need it.

Think of it like sending the stray cat to a shelter instead of feeding it on your patio.

9 thoughts on “Avoid Stray Cat Syndrome

  1. Oldalaskan is right. Tell people that help is at the church down the road/street and anonymously donate to the church.

  2. This fear of people taking advantage of you is funny when you consider that European culture is based on people that went into the lands of others to invade, kill and steal.

  3. Kids would be used to lure you into a trap. My idea of going easy on visitors would be using something less than lethal on the kids.

  4. Great analogy using cats …. one good thing about cats …. it’s unlikely you’ll get a whole band of wild cats being lead back to your door …. can’t say that about that desperate sheeple trying to bargain info to save his life from a raider group ….

  5. A long time ago a farmer thought it would be nice to have a pond on his farm. He and his family could go fishing, swimming and canoeing. Soon a pair of ducks showed up. He thought they were nice to look at and fed them. Soon he noticed that there were a few more ducks. But he kept feeding them. Soon there were hundreds of ducks and he ran out of food. The ducks came to his house and if anyone left the house the ducks would attack the family members. Soon the nice lawn that he had was covered in duck poop and the loud quacking kept the family up at night. The farmer and his wife had enough of this and they captured the ducks and sent them away. Two weeks later the ducks were back. As hard as it sounds once you feed someone they will tell others and they will consume all that you have prepared and you will become one of them.
    In a true end of the world event it is best to tell people that help is at the church down the road/street and anonymously donate to the church.

  6. Don’t open the door! Not for anyone! Instead, speak through the door. By opening the door, you just gave up the strengh and protection of your house – it can be forced open by one or two guys hiding around the corner. Or, a child can quickly slip inside through the opening (“Just a crack!” you thought to yourself, “I’ll only open it a crack. They’ll listen to reason, I’m sure!”) and entangle your legs, preventing you from keeping a desperate father from forcing his way inside. Even if that doesn’t happen, when you open the door, those outside know about how many of you are inside, sex of same, any weapons you show, age, physical ability, etc. etc.
    Beware of even opening the door! Let them guess these things, and never know for sure.

  7. It may be a flaw in my character, but if you’re an adult and want something from me, you’re gonna have to barter for it in a WROL situation. Equitable trade of goods, split some wood, wash those jeans that are such a passion in the posterior to wash by hands, that sort of thing.
    If CHILDREN are involved, real young’ns, I’ll set up a cute little table in the shade and feed THEM something. Free of charge. The parents can sit and watch (probably at gunpoint, I’m not a trusting kind of guy), or do some work.
    They won’t see where the food comes from, nor how much, if any, I have stored.
    Won’t wipe their kids ass, won’t take ’em in, but I won’t let the kids go away hungry. Just go away.

  8. FANTASTIC article. Sharing the heck out of this one. Hopefully it will help make my point. It is OK and good to help, but you have to be careful and not do it from where your stash is. If you do, kiss it goodbye.
    Those people will tell others and come back, en masse.

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