Lost & Found Cat Advice
Found a cat
Often cats seem to be strays but actually have a home. Due to their nature they do tend to roam and can appear to be lost. A cat that is hanging around looking for food, or trying to get into your house may have a home not far away, so you need to be sure they are genuinely homeless before assuming they are stray and either taking it to a rehoming centre, or deciding to take it in yourself.
Unlike with dogs, there are very few laws that give cats any legal protection. The number of stray cats is on the increase and one of our most frequently asked questions is what to do if you find a stray cat.
Follow our advice on what to do if you have found a cat and suspect they may be stray or lost.
Avoid feeding cats
Try not to feed cats who come into your garden unless they're clearly underweight. This will only encourage them to keep coming back and they may have owners feeding them too or have special dietary requirements due to health issues.
Use a paper collar
Put a paper collar on the cat asking an owner to contact you if the cat is theirs. If you get no response after a couple of days you can assume the cat has not been back home or may be stray.
Spread the word
Ask your neighbors if their cat is missing or if they recognise the cat. There may well be someone searching frantically for their much loved lost pet.
Consider putting up a ‘found’ poster with a photo of the cat & giving your contact details so the owner can get in touch if they see it.
Many areas have ‘lost and found pets’ groups on Facebook, so have a look to see if there is one for your neighborhood.
Report the cat to your local rescue centre and vet
Report to your local rescue centres and vets as many of them will keep a lost and found database.
Councils and local authorities have no legal responsibility to deal with stray cats. While dog wardens have an obligation to take in stray dogs, this law does not apply to cats.
Check for a microchip
If the cat is approachable take them to your local vet or rescue centre where they will be able to scan for a microchip with the owner's details.
Take the cat your local rescue centre
If you haven't found an owner after a couple of weeks take the stray to your local rescue centre.
Please contact us before bringing the cat to us. Unlike dogs, local authorities do not take in stray cats.
If you decide to keep the cat, make sure you fully consider the commitment and responsibility of owning a pet.
If you find the cat's owner please remember to inform those who are still looking and take down any found posters.
Lost a Cat
If you've lost your cat, there are a number of things you could do to help find your pet as quickly as possible.
Thoroughly check your home
Check every single room and hidey hole in your house from under the bed to behind washing machines. Cats can squeeze in to very small spaces so they could be hiding or stuck somewhere.
Here's a list of some places to get you started:
•behind curtains, sofas, cupboards
•under beds, duvets, tables
•inside cupboards, chimneys, washing machines, ovens, bins, any storage spaces
•check outside in and behind bins, sheds and garages
•check under cars in wheel arches and even under the bonnet.
Search your area
Keep in mind that your cat may wander further than you think. If you've moved recently, ask around your old address in case your cat has gone back there. Ask your neighbours to check anywhere where your cat may have got trapped inside such as sheds or garages. If there are any building sites nearby ask them to have a look around there also. During the evening, when it is more quiet, see if you can hear your cat meow when you call their name or shake their food in case they are trapped somewhere and calling out.
Report your cat missing to your microchip company
Inform the company where your cat’s microchip is registered as soon as possible. This will stop someone being able to try and change the microchip details. Equally it is an opportunity to check that your details are up to date should anyone find your cat and need to contact you. Some companies, such as Petlog, will also be able to send out alerts of your missing cat to their network.
Make a report to your local animal rescue centers
Many rescue centers keep a lost and found database where your details can be saved in case a match to your cat is found.
Report your cat missing to nearby vets
Check with locals vets in case your cat has been injured and someone has taken them to a vet for help.
Make a report to the police if you suspect your cat has been stolen
They may be aware of similar activity in your area and be able to help you.
Spread the word
Create a poster with the cats details on it and remember to put the posters inside plastic sleeves to protect them from the rain if they're outside. Put them up in local shops, vets, pubs, notice boards, the area where your pet went missing and through the doors of neighbouring streets. Register your cat on any lost and found websites and share on social media.
If you find your cat please remember to inform everyone who is still keeping an eye out for them and take down any lost posters.
Can I keep a stray cat?
If you would like to keep the stray cat as your own pet and have been unable to find the owner using the tips above, first check whether the cat is microchipped by taking them to your vet to have them scanned.
Cats have been known to jump into cars and vans and accidently travel many miles away from home, so a microchip can sometimes be the only way of tracking down an owner.
If you have made a really good attempt to find the cat’s owner and wish to keep them as your own pet, you must be able to give them all the care they need to stay happy and healthy.
I’ve found a litter of kittens. What should I do?
If you find one or more kittens, first check to see if their mother is about.
If there is no sign of their mum, try to leave the kittens undisturbed and keep an eye on them for a couple of hours to see if she comes back. She may not be far away, but frightened to return to them while you are there. Don’t be tempted to handle the kittens, as this may deter her from coming back to them.
If mum still hasn’t come back after a few hours then the kittens will need to be taken in urgently as they won’t be able to fend for themselves without her.
Contact us to get them taken in and cared for as soon as possible.
If the mum is there, the kittens don’t need to be moved immediately if they’re in a safe place, and there’s time to make arrangements for them to be brought into us.
When you call us, give as much detail as possible about where the kittens are, whether or not their mum is there, and how big they are so the expert can advise you on the best thing to do in this situation. If the mum is around, she needs to be scanned for a microchip to see if she has an owner close by.
Do not be tempted to keep a litter of kittens. They will need veterinary care, worming, vaccination and neutering before being re-homed, so it’s best to hand them in to us as soon as possible.
I accidently hit a cat with my car. What should I do?
Sadly it is not uncommon for cats to be involved in road traffic accidents.
Although there is no law requiring you to report hitting a cat with your car, making an attempt to let the owner know is a kind thing to do if you can.
If the cat is alive but injured and able to be caught, try to take them to the nearest vet for emergency care. The vet can then try to find an owner, or may have an arrangement with a local rehoming centre that can take the cat in after treatment.
If the cat runs away, there’s little you can do, other than keep an eye on out for lost cat posters and on social media in case someone is looking for their cat.
If the cat is killed and you can bring yourself to pick it up, you can take it to a vet or rehoming centre to be scanned for a microchip. This is not an easy thing to do, but try to think about how you would feel if it was your pet – it’s much better for owners to know what’s happened to their cat if possible.
At the very least, try to make a note of the description of the cat, colour, sex, collar etc in case someone is looking for them.
Advice for cat owners
Microchipping your cat gives you the best chance of getting them back if they go missing. Even if your cat wears a collar displaying your contact details make sure your cat is microchipped in case the collar falls off your cat.
Cats are regularly brought to us and other rehoming centers by people who think they are strays. If a cat is microchipped then we can contact the owner and reunite them with their much loved pet quickly. Sadly, if a cat is not microchipped we are often unable to return cats to their owners because we have no way of contacting them.
Make sure your contact details are correct. You can check your details are up to date by phoning the microchip database.
Add your mobile phone number to your contact details so you can be reached if you are not at home.
Let your microchip database know as soon as your cat goes missing so they can put a note on your pet’s record for when they are found.