What to do if you find a stray cat

Most cats by nature are inclined to roam the area surrounding their home. If you come across an unfamiliar cat it may not be easy to tell if it is a stray, a feral or if it is in fact an owned cat with a sense of adventure or possibly one just looking for extra food! So what should you do for the best?

Before you do anything, it is important to assess whether the cat is a stray, a feral or an owned cat. If it appears well-groomed and is a healthy weight, it may have an owner nearby. Ferals behave like wild animals and won't come close, even with encouragement. Stray cats might look lost and disorientated, but may be friendly if given time.

It is best not to feed cats who come into your garden (or home) unless they are clearly underweight. This will only encourage them to keep coming back and they may have owners feeding them too; they may have special dietary requirements due to health issues. If the cat is friendly and you feel it is safe to handle it, you might be able to check for an identification tag; if it belongs to someone, give them a call and let them know the situation. If there is no tag, you can take the cat to your nearest vet to scan for a microchip, or call your local Cats Protection branch for help.

Check local social media sites and our website to see if someone is missing their beloved pet; advertise the cat you've found using flyers or social media sites, and if you can safely handle the cat you can attach a paper collar (templates can be found on the link below) so that an owner can know the situation.

The visual guide below may be a help in identifying between a stray and a feral cat.

Printable paper collars for cats

If you've found a cat and you're unsure as to whether it has an owner, 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
- 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
- If you get no response from the owner, call your local Cats Protection branch. You can find your local branch by typing in your postcode at www.cats.org.uk/find-us