Lost and Found


Lost cat

Not all cats are house cats. Some are inclined to wander, especially if there is fuss or food to be found elsewhere. It is normal for your cat to pop in and out throughout the day – especially if they have a taste for adventure. If your cat hasn’t returned by the time dinner time comes around, however, you might be worried that your cat is missing. Try not to panic. Cats can disappear for days at a time and return with no trouble, looking perfectly healthy. While you might be concerned, they’re likely to stroll in and wonder what all the fuss is about. If they haven’t yet returned, give them a few hours before you make a plan of action.

If your pet still hasn’t returned home, there are a few simple things you can do to help find your missing cat. The first thing to do is to check your own home and garden. Cats love small cosy spaces and might be hiding in the unlikeliest of places – from cupboards to garden sheds. Check every room in your house, including any outbuildings and sheds too. Look behind curtains, under duvets and even in household appliances like tumble dryers and washing machines. If you’re having building work completed, check under floorboards or any holes big enough for a cat to nestle into.

If you’re sure your cat isn’t at home, the next thing to do is to speak to your neighbours as well as any delivery people nearby. They might have seen your lost cat somewhere and can let you know of their whereabouts. Ask them to check their own sheds and outbuildings, as well as under any parked cars in the neighbourhood. Remember to check homes on both sides of the road, as well as homes that have gardens that back on to yours. You could even provide neighbours with an up to date photo and your cat’s name, reminding them to keep an eye out.  You could also ask at local shops if they can display a missing poster for you, and give your postman or milkman (or woman) a leaflet so they can keep a look out on their rounds.

Advertising on social media is a great way to get the message out that your cat is missing, particularly if you’re a member of  local Facebook community groups, also Nextdoor and local Lost and Found pages. Post a clear photo of your cat, their details, your area and your contact details.  If you would like to advertise your cat on our page, please email socialmedia@atherton.cats.org.uk with the details and a photo.  To reach further afield, you could advertise on Pets Reunited, Pawboost or Animal Search UK.
If your cat has a registered, up to date microchip,  when taken to a vet or rescue they would contact you.  Otherwise, ring round local vets.  If your cat is chipped, inform the chip company too.  IF YOUR CAT'S MICROCHIP DETAILS ARE OUT OF DATE, PLEASE GET THEM CHANGED STRAIGHT AWAY.  If you have lost the paperwork, speak to whoever chipped the cat.
You could also ring the Cleansing Department of your local council to see if they have picked up any deceased cats.  Even if your cat is microchipped it is worth checking with them.

It can be helpful to keep a list of useful phone numbers pinned to a board in your kitchen. You can download our list below, complete with handy checklist.  Please click here Lost cat checklist

Cats are heavily reliant on scent and leaving out items that may entice them back to you is well worth an attempt. Things to try include the following:

  • Leave your cat’s favourite toy or some of their unwashed bedding in the garden
  • Leave an unwashed item of your clothing, which will have your scent on it.  
  • Place any used litter from your cat’s litter tray outside, or perhaps the contents of your hoover for a smell of home
  • Call out for your cat in the garden early in the morning or late at night, when everywhere is likely to be quieter
  • Shake a box of their favourite biscuits or treats, and leave food and water out for them.
  • Keep calling your cat, leaving enough time for them to hear you and be led home.
  • House cats normally stay close to home.  Check in bushes, under cars etc.
  • If you have recently moved house, your cat may be trying to return to his previous home, so check the old area and advertise locally.  Cats Protection advises that cats are kept indoors for at least 3 weeks after moving house.
  • Sometimes cats, particularly elderly ones, wander off when they feel ill.  It is their way of trying to get away from the way they feel.  Please take the cat for a vet check up when they return.
  • Hopefully your cat will return home shortly.   Please let everyone know so they can stop searching.  If they aren't chipped and neutered,  please get this done now, they will be less likely to wander and are more likely to be reunited with you if they go missing again.
  • If your cat isn’t neutered, they will be less likely to stray againif you get them done.  We can help with costs if you are on low income or benefits.  If your cat is an unneutered female, chances are they were in season and are now pregnant so please get them booked in at a vet as a matter of urgency.
  • Please ensure your cat is chipped, that the chip is registered and contact details are kept updated in case your cat ever goes missing again.
  • Be aware, there are scammers operating in our area who will ring you to say they have your cat and demand payment before returning your pet. They don't have your cat, and will be unable to produce a photo.  Please don't hand any money over to them, instead notify the police.

Microchipping your cat

Microchipping your cat is the most effective way to ensure that they can be identified if they go missing. Ensuring the chip is registered and  your details are up to date can increase the likelihood of a reunion. If your lost cat is found and taken to a vet or rescue, you’ll be contacted quickly.

Moved house or changed a phone number? You’ll need to let your microchipping company know so that your details that are on file can be amended.


If you have found a sick or injured cat, please contact the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999 or take to your local vet.  RSPCA has a scheme for treating injured or sick strays where they will release money to the vet, again contact 0300 1234 999.  Their helpline is open 7 days a week 7am to 10pm.

If you have found a deceased cat, please take to a vet as they will scan for a microchip for free, and hold onto the cat for a few days to give the owner a chance to come forward.  You should post on local community sites and Lost and Found pages the details of where you found the cat, where the cat is now, a description of the cat, and say you can provide a photo on request.   

If you've found a cat, please don't assume he or she is a stray.  Even when very thin and appearing unwell, it may be that the cat is old or sick, and has an owner ensuring there is regular vet treatment   There could be a worried owner searching desperately for the cat. You should always check for an owner first before giving a cat a permanent home. Cats are classed as the owner's property in the eyes of the law, and if you adopt a stray cat without taking reasonable steps to find the owner it is considered theft. Please take to a vet to check for a chip, put up posters around the area,  and advertise the cat on local community pages including Nextdoor and Lost and Found groups.  To reach further afield, you could advertise on Pets Reunited, Pawboost or Animal Search UK.  If the cat is timid you can sometimes gain trust by feeding and moving the bowl a bit nearer to you each time,  Trapping a cat is only done as a last resort as it is frightening for the cat. If there is no chip,  use our handy paper collars. Here's what to do:

  • Print out the template here
  • Write your contact telephone number in the space provided and cut out one collar
  • Join the ends with sellotape.  Ensure the fitted collar allows for two fingers to be placed between the collar and cat's neck, to make sure the cat isn't harmed.
  • You could also put sellotape on the collar to strengthen it, but remember to leave a small gap so the collar can come off easily in an emergency.
  • Sometimes cats manage to pull the collar off.  If this happens, don't be discouraged, try another collar.
  • If you don't have a printer, you could make a handwritten one.
  • If you use paper collars, make sure you wash your hands thoroughly before and after.
  • If you get no response from the owner and you are in our area,  please email admissions@atherton.cats.org.uk including your phone number or phone 01942 465321 for help.
  • If you have a stray cat that has no shelter, you can make a temporary one by using a cardboard box covered with plastic with an entrance hole cut out the side.  An old towel or blanket inside will make it cosier.  In winter use straw instead as it has heat retaining properties and does not retain moisture.  A polystyrene box with an entrance hole in the side makes a great shelter.  You can obtain these for free from stores which sell fish amongst other shops or we can supply one. 

If an owner comes forward, please ask for proof of ownership such as a photograph.   Sadly, there are evil people who pretend to be the owner to get their hands on a cat for free. For more advice on Found cats, please click here Found cat checklist

If you need help with a  feral cat and you are in our local area, please email   enquiries@atherton.cats.org.uk  with your contact details or ring 01942 465321.

If you are aware of a cat abandoned by the owner, please contact RSPCA on 0300 1234 999 so they can investigate the matter.

To advertise a found cat on our page, please email  socialmedia@atherton.cats.org.uk  with details, a photograph and a contact number.

Hopefully the cat will be reunited with the owner before long.  Please let everyone know that the cat is now home.