Help…I Found a Stray Cat!
Take a good look at the cat. Is he in good physical condition, easy to approach, or wearing a collar with identification tags? If the stray is wearing tags, a phone call to the number listed is the best way to find out where he lives. If the cat looks to be in good condition, but is not wearing tags, take him to a local shelter or veterinarian’s office to be scanned for a microchip, which will be registered to his guardian. If there is no identification, try the following:
- Check Lost sections of local papers or place your own Found ad.
- Register the cat using the Pet Spotter App and with lost/found match-up programs at local cat shelters. Also, websites created for lost and found pets, such as petspotter.org, are a good place to start.
- Post Found signs in the area where you discovered the cat.
If you think you’ve found the cat’s guardian, don’t hand over the cat right away. Take a few precautions to make sure the person claiming the cat is actually the guardian. Unfortunately, reselling cats for research, baiting, or as breeders for kitten mills does happen. An unscrupulous "buncher" (animal broker) may put on a well-polished act as a concerned guardian, so it’s best to do the following:
- Ask for identification. When someone calls in response to an ad or posted notice, ask for the caller’s name and telephone number and tell the person you’ll call back right away.
- Ask for a description of the cat. A guardian should be able to give you details not mentioned in your ad or notice.
- Watch the reaction of the cat when the guardian arrives. A cat being reunited with its guardian is usually visibly excited.
- If you’re not sure, ask for proof such as veterinary records or photographs. Don’t worry that you’re being overly cautious-a pet guardian will understand that you are only trying to protect the cat.
If you can’t find the cat’s guardian and can’t keep the stray, there are options available to you. You can take the cat to your local animal care and control or a private shelter. Be aware that no-kill shelters have limited admissions and may not be able to admit the cat immediately or at all. You also can consider fostering him until you can find an adopter, but be sure to screen all potential adopters and charge an adoption fee.