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Found a stray or feral cat?

24 February 2022

Lost a cat? Or found a stray cat and you're not sure what to do next? Read our guide on lost, found and feral cats.

Five important things

  • It is important to remember that even cats with a regular routine can disappear for days at a time - don't panic!
  • Feral cats are the same species of cat as our pet cats, but are not socialised to humans - this means they behave like wild animals. Approach with caution
  • Make sure your cat is microchipped and the information is kept up to date. Your cat should be easily identifiable so that their owner can be traced
  • Stray cats found on the street aren't always without owners. Before you do anything, it is important to check whether the cat is owned or not
  • If you're worried about the health of a stray cat, call: RSPCA on its emergency number 0300 1234 999 (England and Wales)

Lost cats

While cats are inclined to wander, you might start to worry if your cat goes missing completely.

Cats are notorious for hiding in small spaces, so it's well worth checking your house and garden before you search anywhere else.

Download our checklist for useful contact details to use in the event of your cat going missing.

See also - Lost a cat

Feral cats

While feral cats are the same species of cat as pet cats, they are not socialised to humans or the domestic environment and can behave like wild animals.

Feral cats can be hard to spot as they find humans naturally threatening. If you need to approach them, do it with caution!

See also - Feral cats


Found a cat?

Cats can often appear lost and wanting food - this doesn't necessarily mean they are a stray! If the cat appears to be a healthy weight and well groomed, it might be owned. Ask your neighbours if they recognise the cat, or post a photo on local community Facebook groups.

If there are no visible signs of ownership, take the cat to your local vet clinic so that they can check for a microchip or contact your local cats protection.



Stray cats

A stray cat might be nervous, or even sick or injured, so be careful in your approach. One of the safest ways to move the cat is to carefully cover it with a blanket before putting it in a safe cat carrier. You'll be keeping the cat safe as well as shielding yourself from potentially sharp claws.

If the cat is a genuine stray and you can't get in touch with the owner, you might need to keep the cat safe. Take a look at our how-to guide on building a cat shelter - this will keep the cat warm and sheltered from the elements.

See also - Stray cats


What to do if you find a dead cat

Finding a dead cat can be a distressing experience, and it might not always be clear if the cat is stray or owned.

  • If you're not sure whether the cat is dead, it is important to get the cat to a vet immediately. Wrap them in a towel, taking care not to injure them further. 
  • If the cat is dead, take them your nearest vet so that they can scan the microchip for proof of ownership. If you can't get in contact with your local vet, try your local Cats Protection branch 

See also - What to do if you find a dead cat