What should I do if I find a stray cat?

Posted by Argos, 20 May 2014, last updated 1 October 2020.

Cats are independent and love exploring their surroundings, which sees them wandering as far as they please. However, they may sometimes need a little help finding their way home or indeed, finding a home.

Because cats are wanderers, it’s important to remember that just because you see a cat you don’t recognise, it doesn’t mean that the cat is a stray. If you do find a cat you are certain is a stray cat however, there are a few things you can do to get them home or find them a new one.

Stray cat

Keep them calm

It may seem like a big task but coaxing them into a carrier, or a makeshift carrier, and covering it with a blanket to ease stress is the best way to calm a cat that may panic in an unknown environment. Never carry a cat in your arms as you are at risk of being bitten or scratched.

A great technique can be putting some milk or water out for the stray cat to encourage them to hang around whilst you find suitable help. If they look like they haven’t had anything to eat or drink for a while, this is sure to keep them occupied and prevent them from running off.

Ask neighbours

Knocking on doors in the local area to spread the word is the best place to start after finding a cat, as it may live in the local area. You can ask your neighbours if it is their cat or if they recognise the cat at all. You could even ask them if they have any experience with cat care and recruit them to help with the stray.

You have to remember, the stray cat is likely very stressed out and anxious, getting the assistance of someone who is used to dealing with cats is a great way to make the cat feel a little safer whilst you plan your next steps.

Check for a microchip

Unlike dogs, cats aren’t legally required to be microchipped. However, it’s strongly recommended that all cats be microchipped, so a cat with a home will likely have one.

If you find a stray cat, take it to the local vet who will be able to check. If it’s microchipped, this will help to reunite your new furry friend with its owner. If the cat doesn’t have a microchip, the vet should be able to advise on the next steps for the stray cat.

tabby cat on ledge

Get advice from local services

Taking a lost cat to the local vet or animal shelter is the best thing to do. They may be able to trace the owner or help with rehoming the cat.

The RSPCA offers downloadable materials on their website, such as paper collars and ‘found pet’ posters. You can attach a paper collar to the cat with a note, which may help to find its owner.

Use lost and found registers

Several online resources help to reunite owners with their missing pets.

Pets Located is a free website where you can register a stray cat as found, and also see whether its owner has reported it as lost. If there is no response after a couple of days, put posters up in the local area as someone may still be searching for their missing pet.

Another option is to contact Cats Protection. They have a lost and found register on their website and will happily assist you.

Know when to leave a cat alone

If a cat doesn’t seem very approachable, it may be feral. In which case, it’s usually happy to live outside, as long as it’s healthy. If the cat’s in immediate danger and you need to intervene, take precautions to avoid being bitten or scratched.

In some cases, local councils or animal charities may have a programme in place to neuter feral cats, so get in touch with them to check.

If you have your own cuddly cat at home, make sure you protect them with Argos Pet Insurance provided by Pinnacle Insurance plc. Explore our cat insurance policies today.

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