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What do I do if I find a stray cat?

Cats are avid explorers and sometimes they end up going into back gardens all over their community. Some are clever enough to look hungry and even take food from their neighbours and then wander back home again to have even more lovely treats! However many cats do get mistaken for strays so here is some advice on what to do if you are concerned a cat does not have an owner.


What should I do if I find a stray cat?

If you see a healthy, friendly cat that you think may be a stray, monitor it closely, make sure it is not sick or injured and contact your neighbours and other members of the community to see if the cat is owned. A neighbour may have a new cat, or someone new may have moved to the neighbourhood and their cat may be out exploring so please do not take it away from its location before exhausting all the options below.

Unfortunately, the National RSPCA doesn’t have the resources to collect healthy strays. If you would like advice please call our Branch on 0303 040 1565.

Cats are considered property in the UK, which means that a lost or stray cat belongs to its owner, and you need to do everything possible to return it to its rightful and original owner before you consider taking on the cat for yourself or try to rehome it elsewhere. You should do this for at least 7-10 days.

  • Try placing a paper collar on the cat requesting the owner contact you. You can download paper cat collars from the National RSPCA here. Remember to always take precautions when approaching the cat and fixing the collar.
  • We also recommend you visit Pets Located, an online resource that reunites owners with their pets. Social media can also be a really useful tool in helping to reunite lost pets with their owners. There are often local lost and found groups/pages for pets that you can post on.
  • Putting up posters in your local area can also be effective, you can download and print a found poster here. 
  • If none of these options work for you and you are unsuccessful in finding an owner, you can take the cat to your local vet who will be able to scan the cat for a microchip.

What should I do if I can’t find the cat’s owner?

If after not being able to locate the animal’s owner, you’re prepared to take responsibility for continued feeding and are willing to take the cat to a vet for vaccinations & neutering, please do so – you would be potentially saving a little life.

Giving a home to a cat in need can be hugely rewarding but it’s also a responsibility and a long-term commitment. Consider carefully whether you have the time, space and money to help care for a stray cat. If the cat becomes ill or injured in the future you’ll be responsible for ensuring that they get the veterinary care they need.

If you decide to take on responsibility for a stray cat, please make sure you get them microchipped and have your contact details registered so that you can be identified as the owner.

What should I do with a sick or injured stray cat?

If you find an injured stray or feral cat and they’re approachable, please confine them and take them to a vetif possible. If this is not possible, please get in contact with the National RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.

EmmaWhat do I do if I find a stray cat?