What to do if you find a stray cat

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.


Stray cats

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

  • Ask around your neighbourhood to see if you can find the owner. Not all owned cats wear collars due to being 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 animal reunite websites to give them the best chance of being reunited with their owner
  • Download and print a 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 posters around your local area, adding a full description and photo where possible
  • If the cat is sick or injured please contact the RSPCA immediately on 0300 1234 999
  • Stray cats can often have fleas or worms. Contact us if you suspect this may be an issue.
  • If you have no luck finding an owner please report the cat you have found to www.animalsearchuk.co.uk
  • Take the cat to your nearest vet to check for a microchip, free of charge. This is the quickest way to find an owner.

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, contact us – 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 Wood Green on 0300 303 9333

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:

  • Contact your local council to report the cat
  • Contact the Highways agency to report the cat to be collected
  • Contact your local vet, so the cat can be checked for a microchip to help identify an owner.