Cats are known for wandering – some have even been known to roam half a mile away from home on a regular basis. However, sometimes a cat might stray too far and get lost, or they may not have a home to go back to.
When you see a new cat around, or even one you keep seeing but your neighbours don’t know who their owner is, it can be tricky to tell whether the cat is a stray, owned or feral.
It can be particularly difficult to spot the difference between a stray and feral cat. Feral cats live outdoors away from people and are not domesticated. Some things to look out for to identify a stray cat rather than a feral cat include:
If the cat seems friendly enough to safely get them into a cat carrier yourself, take them to the nearest vets for scanning in case they are just lost. You can also contact your local Cats Protection or a nearby animal shelter as they will be able to check to see if there are any matching reports of lost cats in the area and possibly scan the cat for a microchip. If the cat is just visiting you occasionally then a paper collar is a great way to potentially find out if there is an owner.
If you're worried about a stray cat's health, contact the following on their emergency numbers:
If you find a cat who is sick or injured, approach with care by carefully covering the cat in a blanket before picking them up and putting them in a cat basket - this keeps them safe as well as protecting you from claws! You can then take them to your nearest veterinary practice. Vets provide emergency treatment and care to sick or injured animals at no cost to the finder.
If you find a stray cat, you should first attempt to find their owner. You can keep the cat safe until you do so by offering them shelter and food, but you should get them scanned for a microchip and check any lost and found pages online first.
Once you are sure the cat is stray and doesn’t have a home and owner waiting for them, if you are happy to you can adopt the cat yourself. We would always recommend having them microchipped so if they go roaming again they are more likely to be reunited with you. You can find out more about microchipping on our website.
If you can’t care for the cat yourself, give your local Cats Protection branch or centre a call as we may be able to rehome them for you.