Where to Take a Stray Cat

Posted by Dr. Roth on

Where to take a stray cat, cat laying outside

Where to Take a Stray Cat

Most people who find a stray cat want to help.  Every day, animal shelters and vet clinics are inundated with calls from people asking where they can take a stray cat. Like any good samaritan would, they want to make sure these animals are in good hands. Here are some tips for anyone who may come upon a stray cat or kitten.

What to do if You Find a Lost Cat

When dealing with a lost, injured, or visiting cat, a good first step is to search social media to see if their family is looking for them. Popular social media platforms to check are:

  • Nextdoor
  • Craigslist
  • Petfinder
  • Local neighborhood Facebook groups 

Many areas have a Facebook group just for finding lost pets. If the cat isn't listed on any social media platforms, another option is to create a “found cat” listing to post. These listings should be made visible to the public so others can share it.

Assess the Situation‌

People should always exercise extreme caution when dealing with an unknown animal. It's important to visually assess a stray cat's health before approaching them and identify if they appear to be hungry or injured. A scared or injured cat won’t understand good intentions, so it's best to avoid cornering them or catching them with bare hands. If a cat appears to be healthy and looks recently fed, they may not need any additional attention if they are not in danger. 

Anyone trying to approach a stray cat should do so slowly, checking to see if they appear injured. If the cat runs away, they shouldn't be chased. Cats that approach the person attempting to help should be provided with shelter, food, and water. Stray cats should be kept away from other pets and children until their health can be verified. Cats' mouths are loaded with bacteria and can easily cause an infection. 

Cat Health

Local animal control can take an injured or distressed cat to the emergency vet clinic. If contacting animal control is not an option, the following steps should be taken:

  • Gently wrap the cat in a towel
  • Place the cat in a pet carrier
  • Take the cat to a vet hospital or local animal shelter

Emergency animal hospitals can be expensive. If paying for treatment isn't feasible, calling local animal rescues or shelters is a good alternative. 

Scan for a Cat Microchip

Some lost cats may be microchipped. Friendly cats, especially those with collars, should be taken to a shelter or vet clinic to be scanned for a chip. If the cat is chipped, the facility will be able to call the owner to come pick up the cat. Many people own indoor/outdoor cats who like to visit the neighbors in hopes of an extra meal. In cases in which a social media post doesn't receive a response and the cat is not in distress or danger, it may be okay to release the cat where they were found. Indoor/outdoor cats will usually find their way home and might take care of a few neighborhood mice along the way.

Sometimes, after exhausting the search for a lost cat's owners, the cat may not want to leave. People who find themselves in this situation can try to find the cat a new home, take them to an animal shelter, or continue caring for them. Either way, it is important to assess the situation before taking action. 

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