What to Do if You Find a Stray Cat
If you find a cat that you can’t keep, consider taking it in and trying to find a home for it yourself. Shelters and rescue groups have limited space, money, and volunteers. There simply are too many stray animals and not enough space in shelters. If you or a friend are able to provide a safe, temporary home for the cat, you just might be saving a life!
What to do first
Find out if the cat already has a home. Post flyers where you found the cat that say “found cat” with your phone number. If someone is looking for their cat, they should be able to describe the cat to you. You can also take the cat to a vet to have it scanned for a microchip. Unfortunately, many stray cats are never claimed.
Bring the cat inside. Keep it separated from your other pets, perhaps in a bathroom, until you are sure that the cat is healthy. Provide a warm bed, clean litter box, water, and healthy canned food.
Bring the cat to a vet to have it scanned for a microchip, examined, spayed/neutered, and vaccinated. You may also decide to have the cat tested for Feline Leukemia/FIV. Some vets will give you a discount if you explain the situation. If you don’t have a vet or can’t afford it, call local rescue organizations for information about low-cost spay/neutering and vet care options.
Finding a home
Once the cat is ready to find a home, start spreading the word. The more people who know the cat’s story, the more chances of finding it a home.
- Talk to friends, neighbors, and coworkers. Send emails and post pictures on Facebook.
- Post flyers with a cute description and pictures in places where you hang out and shop (vet offices, coffee shops, cafes, churches, feed stores, workplaces, etc.).
- Make use of websites such as petfinder and craigslist. Check with rescue groups to see if they might be willing to list the cat on their website as a courtesy.
- Always charge a re-homing fee to eliminate people who might resell cheaply acquired animals to research or use them to train dogs for dog fighting.
Interview potential adopters
Be sure to interview any potential adopters. Ask the person about their history with cats and why they want a cat. There is no point in rescuing a stray cat only to give it to a person who might lose it or not take good care of it. Criteria for a good home include: the cat is spayed/neutered and the people will keep it inside, not declaw, feed it good food, and are able/willing to provide some regular vet care.
It’s easier to find homes for kittens. Interview people who want kittens even more carefully. Kittens grow up quickly, so make sure that your adopter wants a cat—and not just a kitten. Also remember that kittens will be much happier and well-adjusted if placed in pairs.
As a last resort
If you are unable to keep the cat or find a home for it, call around to local no-kill shelters and rescue groups. It’s important to call ahead, as most shelters are often full and will have to put you on a waiting list. See our No-Kill Rescue Resources.