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Stray cat advice

It can be difficult to know what to do if you find a cat. They may have an owner who is really worried about them – and if they don’t, others can help.

A stray domestic cat can be friendly, or nervous and timid. If a cat you haven’t seen before turns up in your garden it doesn’t always mean they’re a stray: they could be new to the neighbourhood, or their owners could be on holiday.

If the cat isn’t there all the time, it may be going back home. Most cats like to roam and some will wander over large areas, especially if they’re un-neutered Tom cats looking for a mate.

If you think you’ve found a stray cat:

  • Take the cat to your nearest vet to check for a microchip, free of charge. This is the quickest way to find an owner.
  • Ask around your neighbourhood to see if you can find the owner. Not all owned cats wear collars because they’re microchipped.
  • Don’t feed a stray cat just in case they have an owner, they may return back home on their own. Even if they look skinny and frail, this may be due to an underlying illness that the owner is aware of.
  • Report the cat to your local animal welfare charities, and list on an animal reunite website to give them the best chance of being reunited with their owner.
  • Download and print this paper collar to check they have an owner. Adjust it to the correct size so you can fit two fingers under the collar while it’s around the cat’s neck.
  • Place “found” posters around your local area, adding a full description and photo where possible.
  • If the cat is sick or injured immediately contact the RSPCA.
  • Stray cats can often have worms or fleas.
  • If you have no luck finding an owner, report the cat you have found to www.animalsearchuk.co.uk.

Feral cats

It’s easy to mistake feral cats for someone’s pet. But in reality, they may well be self sufficient and lack human contact. Female cats can reproduce at five months old so the colony can quickly outgrow the area they are in.

Feral cats are not stray cats, they will not be friendly. They’ll run away if you approach them and their body language will indicate they’re wary. If you think a cat is feral, complete our ‘Give up a cat’ form, choosing one of the ‘stray’ options as the reason to give up the pet. There are organisations that can trap, neuter and then release the cats back into the area where they were caught. This will stop the colony from growing.

If you find mums and kittens

  • Ask around the neighbourhood to make sure the mum and kittens aren’t owned.
  • If you can’t find an owner, make sure they’re all healthy and well. If you’re unsure, ask us or your local vet for more information.
  • Make sure mum isn’t feral before doing anything with the kittens. If it’s necessary to move the kittens, it’s important mum is happy for you to do so.
  • Make sure the kittens are more than a week old before moving them.
  • Make sure they’re in a safe environment in which they can’t get hurt. If they can be moved to an outside garage or shed, this would be ideal as this can be a good way to keep them sheltered and safe.
  • Don’t feed the mum or kittens cows’ milk, as cats are lactose intolerant. Kittens should be feeding off mum; mum will need kitten meat, biscuits and water.
  • If the kittens are too young to eat meat but aren’t feeding from mum, contact your local vet for kitten milk supplements and advice on how to feed them.
  • If you are concerned and would like more information please contact Woodgreen on 0300 303 9333.

If you have read and checked the above information thoroughly, you can apply to rehome the cat with us.

If you find a deceased cat

This can be distressing, but it’s important that owners find out what has happened to their cat. Here’s what to do:

  • If you are willing and able to safely pick up the cat, you can take it to a local vet who will check for a microchip and help identify the owner.
  • Contact your local council to report the cat.
  • Contact National Highways to report the cat to be collected.

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