Who’s That Cat?
So very sad, but so very true: Many cats labeled “feral” were once someone’s pet and are now rightfully confused and terrified to have been abandoned or lost. If they are at a shelter, they’re in real danger.
These “feral” cats aren’t officially “feral,” but rather, they are “stray.” We also call them “community,” “free-roaming, “social” or “un-socialized” cats. They’re all cats and we’re here to help them.
If you’ve found a stray cat on its own, chances are someone’s beloved pet has gone missing. It’s a situation that all responsible, caring pet owners dread. Think how you’d want someone to act if this was your pet. We’re assuming you’re not the sort of person who’d walk or drive right by a lost cat.
Desperately Seeking Mom or Dad
- Does an ID tag or collar show owner contact information? Whew. Call the owner and prepare to be thanked.
- If not, take the cat to your veterinarian to be scanned for an ID microchip or tattoo.
“Found Cat” Essentials
If you’re already a cat owner, you already know what your found cat requires. If not, here’s a short list. At this stage, you’re hopeful you’ll locate the owner and that your new friend’s stay will be temporary.
- A bowl for food and one for water
- Box or folding carrier
- A blanket or large towel
- Catnip, for you never know when you might need it
- Our website address: StrayCatAlliance.org
Spread the Word
- Create a flyer to post in the area where you found the cat. Include a minimal description of the animal, the date and cross-streets. Use a bold heading like “FOUND CAT.” Include all your contact phone numbers and your e-mail. Make it nice and easily readable. Print lots of them and also e-mail them.
- Place the cat’s photos on the appropriate Facebook Lost and Found Pets for your area along with other social media sites. These sites usually contain files with great templates for lost and found pets. Also, put the flyer in a plastic sleeve and place against a neon poster board of larger dimension to catch the attention of those driving or walking past.
- Think like a marketing executive. Place an ad in your local newspapers, in the Recycler and Recycler.com—some placements are free!—on Craigslist, and in nearby pet supply stores.
- Be sly. Withhold some of the distinctive characteristics of the animal. Sadly, unscrupulous people will claim a found animal to sell to research facilities or worse. It’s best to say something like “small white cat” and wait for any respondents to share more detailed identifiers with you. Trust your instincts.
- If a caller claims to be the stray’s owner, be cautious. Meet the person in a public place during daylight hours. Tell someone where you’re going and share contact details of the person you’re meeting. Do not give your home address. Ask that person to provide proof of ownership such as license receipts, vet records—then call that vet to verify—and family photos that include the cat.
- If you are unable to find the rightful owner, understand the limitations of rescues and municipal animal control: too many animals and not enough resources or homes. You have taken the initiative, time, and trouble to rescue a cat and may be frustrated that others aren’t meeting you halfway. Say “thank you” to you!
In the Meantime
If you still can’t find the cat’s guardian, you will need to step it up a notch:
- Take this friendly cat to your veterinarian to assess for previous sterilization, FIV and FeLV and general health. Keep all vet records.
- Contact Stray Cat Alliance and request to courtesy post your foster cat on our online adoption portals and inquire if there is an opportunity to show the cat at one of our adoption events held throughout the Los Angeles community.
- If you already have cats, why not introduce the newcomer slowly and allow it to live in your household until a new home is found, rather than keeping the cat isolated? Who knows? You may find the cat a permanent, welcome addition to your current, treasured feline family. Perhaps it was just meant to be.
Websites for Lost and Found Cats
The followings websites are highly recommended by us if you’ve lost or found a cat.
Some may be free, some may charge. Stray Cat Alliance has no connection to any of these sites and cannot vouch for their effectiveness, but in our experience many animals have been returned to owners or found by Good Samaritans who help lost and found animals.
Look first at your local animal shelter’s website and also go there in person as some animals are kept in ISO (Isolation) as they are injured or ill and cannot be in the general population.
- Nextdoor – community by community connect to neighbors with common interests
- Craigslist – visit the “lost + found” section to search for or list your missing pet for free
A few of the pay sites to help you in finding your pets (others likely exist in your area or are being developed – search on the internet for others):