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Found Cat Advice Is It Really a Stray?

It can be difficult to determine whether a cat is or isn't a stray. If it appears well groomed and is a healthy weight chances are it's just a pet cat with a strong sense of adventure. If the cat is friendly ask the caller to carefully and gently try to look at the cat's footpads. If it's an owned cat then its paw pads are likely to be soft. A cat that has lived outdoors for any length of time is likely to have calloused feet i.e. the skin on the pads is likely to be rough and thick looking.

First Steps

Given the nature of strays, we would advise that you ask your neighbours whether there is a cat missing. Often cats believed to be strays do, in fact, belong to someone local. It is also helpful if you are able to take the cat to a veterinary surgery so they can scan him for a microchip. This is a free service.

Practical Advice

If possible take a picture of the cat and make a poster with details of where and when the cat was found. The posters could be put up in your local vets, shops and wherever you can get permission to display them. Or put a safety (quick release) collar on the cat with a note saying ‘Please call this number if this is your cat…’ If the cat is friendly, fitting a collar shouldn’t be too much of a problem. If the cat is nervous don’t risk being bitten or scratched.

If possible do try and provide the cat with food and clean water. Cow’s milk is not advisable as many cats are lactose intolerant. Ask around the local neighbourhood to see if anyone recognises the cat and look out for any ‘missing cat’ posters. Have a word with the postman and milkman to see if they know of any missing pets on their rounds. Check the local newspaper to see if anyone has placed a ‘lost ad’ that could describe the cat. You may wish to take out an ad of your own in the ‘found’ section. It is also worth contacting the following organisations with information about the found cat:

Is the Cat Injured?

If the cat is injured, please take him to your nearest Veterinary Practice and advise them he is a stray. Vets have a duty to given emergency care to any animal presented to them. If a stray cat is injured and taken to a vet The RSPCA will pay for the vet treatment. You will need to call the RSPCA and obtained a reference number BEFORE taking the cat to the vet. Once the cat is stable, the vet will scan him for a microchip. If the vet confirms that he has no owner, they may contact Cats Protection to see if we are able to take him into our care.

Injured cats can become defensive if they are in pain and scared so only handle them if you think you are able. The safest way of moving an injured cat is to carefully cover him with an old towel or blanket before picking him up. This will contain his legs and, more importantly, his claws.

If you don’t feel confident moving the cat, or if you are unable to get him to a vet, please contact the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.

Pregnant Females

If the cat is a pregnant female please contact us immediately and/or ring a local vet for advice. Unfortunately, there are many cases where the cat has been abandoned and no owner will come forward. If this happens please call us on 020 8763 0072 or email lostfound @ croydoncpcats.org.uk where our volunteers and staff will do their best to help.

Reg Charity No. 203644 (England and Wales); SC037711 (Scotland).