The first thing to work out if you think you have found a stray domestic cat is whether it is truly a stray or a feral cat.
Feral cats are often mistaken for someones pet, they can often be seen around the neighbourhood and assumed to belong to someone, when in reality they are part of a colony of undersocialised cats who are self sufficient and lack human contact. Female cats are able to reproduce at six months old or sooner in some cases and so, quickly, they can become a problem, when the colony outgrows the area they are in. They are not stray cats; a feral cat will not be friendly and will run away if you approach it.
If you think the cat is feral please contact the Cats Protection they will offer to trap, neuter and then release the cats back into the area where they were caught. This will stop the colony from growing and help control the spread of diseases.
Stray domestic cats
A stray domestic cat could be friendly, territorial, or if it’s been a stray for a long time and not had much human contact; nervous or timid. If a cat that you haven’t seen before turns up in your garden it doesn’t always mean its a stray. It may just be the new kid on the block, exploring its neighbourhood. Or perhaps the owners have gone on holiday and it’s looking for some company. If the cat’s being seen periodically and not all the time, it may be going back home inbetween sightings. Most cats like to roam and some will wander over large areas, especially if they are un-neutered Tom cat looking for a mate.
Do not feed a cat if you think it could have an owner
If you feed a cat on a regular basis, regardless of whether it is a stray or has a home, it will always return to be fed. This could encourage the cat to leave its current home and want to live with you, causing unnecessary upset for its true owners and in turn making you responsible for it’s welfare, even if you class it as a ‘stray’.
What to do next?
After establishing the cat is actually a stray. Do not delay following these steps;
Contact your local vet or animal rehoming centre to get the cat scanned for a microchip free of charge, this is the quickest way of finding an owner.
Please report it to as many rehoming centres and websites, as possible to give it the best chance of being reunited with its owner – we have listed contact details at the bottom of this page, to help you.
Put up found posters in local parks, shops, schools and bus shelters, stating colour, sex, coat length and any distinguishing features (Wood Green can help with these).
Go around the neighbourhood asking if anyone recognises the cat and also put some flyers through doors.
Wood Green can help by providing food (surplus to our requirements), and collars to help you look after the cat, while you are trying to find the owner.
Wood Green, The Animals Charity.
Call: 0844 248 8181