If you find a stray cat, here's what do to:
First, exercise caution when approaching. The safety of the cat and of yourself are top priority. A cornered, frightened and possibly sick or injured cat may behave unpredictably. A sudden move may spook him, causing him to bolt into traffic or lash out at you. If the cat looks or acts threatening in any way, or if for any reason at all you feel uneasy about the situation, stay away from him and notify local animal control authorities.
If the cat appears approachable, proceed slowly. When approaching the cat, speak calmly and reassuringly to him. Make sure he can see you at all times as you approach, and perhaps entice him to come to you by offering a morsel of food. When threatened, cats usually use their claws first, but will resort to biting on occasion. Even a small cat bite can be very painful, and if a cat whose vaccination status is unknown bites you, you will be advised to undergo expensive and painful preventive treatment for rabies.
Once you've managed to catch the cat or lure it to safety, the very best thing you can do to care for the cat is to make a concentrated and determined attempt to return it to its owner.
Carefully following the steps below will greatly increase your chances of reuniting the cat with its owner:
1. Assume, no matter how the cat behaves or what it looks like, that this cat is owned and loved by someone who wants the cat back.
2. Check the cat for ID tags or tattoos. Tattoos are often found inside the ear, or on the inner legs.
3. If the cat has shown up repeatedly, it may very well be a neighbor's indoor/outdoor cat. Before you do anything else, get an inexpensive kitty safety collar. Type or print a note that's only as wide as the collar that says "If this is your cat, please call ###-####". Attach the note to the outside of the collar using clear packing tape (see the example below). Then wait 24-48 hours for a response before making the determination that you are dealing with an actual "stray".
4. Check the area for any "Lost Cat" posters, but understand that the cat may be a neighbor's indoor/outdoor cat, and if it is, there will not be any signs because the kitty is not really lost. Or it could be a lost cat that has traveled quite far, in which case the posters could be 1 mile away or more. Also consider that the cat may have escaped in the last few hours and the posters haven't gone up yet. Or possibly the cat's owner is disabled and unable to create and hang posters. Just because there is no poster, don't automatically assume that there is no owner! Remember, chances are there is an owner, and they desperately want their companion home.
5. Take the cat to a veterinarian's office and have it scanned for a microchip. Microchips are tiny computer chips containing identification information which are injected under the skin of pets to provide permanent, positive identification. Most veterinarians and animal shelters are equipped with the readers necessary to detect and interpret microchips.
6. Take a photo (digital if possible) of the cat and make up some "Found Cat" posters with your contact info. Follow the instructions in our "Making a Poster " section for instructions, but change "Lost Cat" to "Found Cat". Leave off some detail about the cat that only the true owner would know in order to positively ID the cat when someone calls. Post these flyers throughout your neighborhood. Make smaller (8' X 10') black & white flyers with the same information and photo and deliver (delegate if you need to) these to rescue groups, vet offices, and pet supply stores in your area. All national pet supply store chains offer lost-and-found bulletin boards in their stores, including Petco and PetsMart, so be sure to take flyers there.
7. Take several flyers to the local shelter because this may be the primary location where the owner will be searching.
8. Check the "lost & found" ads in the local paper, and place a "found cat" ad yourself.
Lee Central Coast Newspapers
Phone: (888) 422-8822
Remember to check the "lost" ads periodically, as well as local lost pet websites. Consider using the service of PETS911 at www.1888pets911.org, an organization that lists community-based pet services, including lost and found pet web sites. Even if the description given doesn't perfectly fit the cat you've found, call anyway. You'd be surprised how many people get the breed wrong or disagree on coat color!
Rescuer Behaviors That Create Problems:
One of the most tragic misinterpretations of feline behavior occurs when rescuers observe a cat with a xenophobic temperament and assume, based on the fearful behavior, that the cat is an untamed "feral." While it is true that feral, untamed cats that are unaccustomed to human contact will hiss, spit, twirl, lunge, and urinate when humanely trapped, this "wild animal" behavior is also common in cats who have xenophobic temperaments! These behaviors are a reflection of a fearful TEMPERAMENT, not a lack of TAMENESS. Shelter and TNR workers should scan all "feral" cats for microchips and conduct research (check Classifieds, lost cat reports, etc.) to determine if the new "feral" is actually someone's xenophobic pet cat that escaped outdoors, perhaps several weeks or months before it was found.
Copyright © 2006, Missing Pet Partnership. All
Thank you to the Missing Pet Partnership for providing the above recommendations. Information about this organization, updates and additional information can be found at www.lostapet.org.