19 November 2020
Found cats: correct procedures to follow and how the law applies
26 February 2020
When a cat is reported to us as being “found” or a “stray” there are certain procedures that we as a charity follow. These run alongside the law which governs the way in which actions must be carried out. It is not simply a case of someone going along and taking the cat into our care. These rules may sometimes appear cruel if a cat is left for a little longer in situ than the finder may like, but as we explain further, you will realise why we do things the way we do.
Initially, when a cat is reported to us as being "found" or a "stray", the call or enquiry is passed to our dedicated lost and found team who will ascertain whether the finder can take the cat to a vets to be scanned for a microchip. If this isn’t possible, then one of our volunteers will offer to go out and scan the cat. Should a chip be found, we then access the database and will contact the owner as soon as possible.
If no chip is found or indeed the owners cannot be contacted immediately by telephone, then a paper collar should be fitted to the cat containing our lost and found telephone number, asking the owner to contact us.
Other immediate actions we take are:
Knock on doors locally and ask if anyone knows the cat.
Put our lost and found posters up with details of the cat asking a potential owner to contact us.
Post the cat on our lost and found website page and also “Lost and Found Pets Coventry” page on Facebook.
If the cat has a chip but the phone number is not obtainable or un-answered, we contact the vet registered on the chip to check if they have up-to-date details of the owner. Where possible we send someone to the registered owner’s address. If all this fails, we send a letter by recorded delivery to the address registered on the chip advising the owner that the cat has been found, inviting them to contact us.
By law, if a cat is found regardless of whether it is chipped or not, there are steps you must follow:
You must make at least two reasonable attempts to trace the owner.
You must leave a period of two full weeks from making these reasonable attempts before the cat can be re-homed and the chip details changed.
When all of these legal requirements have been met and the owner cannot be traced we can then contact the finder and take the cat into our care. At this point the finder must sign an acceptance form handing the cat into the care of Cats Protection.
Similarly, if the owner is contacted but no longer wants the cat, they must also sign a form handing the cat over into our care.
Once the cat is taken into our care it is vet checked immediately. If it is a high risk cat (such as an unneutered tom or a pregnant mum), it is snap tested for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) and Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV). It is then placed with a fosterer in isolation for a period of two weeks, to protect our other cats in care, and so that when re-homed the person adopting the cat can be sure that the cat is healthy and will not bring any nasty illnesses into its new home.
These rules are made for a reason - they are designed to protect the cat, and also if the cat has an owner who is desperately looking for them, then they have every chance of getting their beloved pet back. Also, when attending a "found" or "stray" cat it is important to establish that the cat hasn’t just given birth, as by removing the cat there is a risk of leaving kittens without their mum. Obviously, in the case of a heavily pregnant queen, it may be necessary to take the cat immediately into care to protect her and to prevent the kittens becoming feral. If this is the case, the above procedures must always be followed.
I hope you find this article informative and useful. Hopefully it explains why when a cat is reported to us as "found" or "stray", we follow the procedures we do, and you can understand just how much is going on behind the scenes to help the cat