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What to Do If You Find a Lost Cat

What to Do If You Find a Lost Cat

Do you want to help a lost cat, but have no idea what to do? The stray or lost pet may have shown up unexpectedly on your doorstep, or you may have noticed him wandering along a busy street. It’s also not unusual for some lost cats to follow strangers’ home, if they’re particularly used to being in the presence of people. If you’re wondering right now what to do if you find a lost cat, your top priority would of course, to return it to its owner.

Is It a Stray or a Feral Cat?

You might be confusing a lost cat for a feral cat. This is an important question before you ask what to do if you find a missing cat. Feral cats know how to survive without the help of a human caretaker. A domesticated cat would look a little dirtier and skinnier if it’s been lost for some time, since it’s not used to fending for itself.

A feral cat wouldn’t even make eye contact with you and be quick to run and hide.  A stray cat would be a bit more trusting but you still have to be cautious when making your approach. Lost cat behavior varies. Some cats are friendlier than others, and the cat you want to help may be a little more fearful, especially if it got lost due to traumatizing circumstances.

Another way to tell between a lost pet cat and a feral cat is the way they vocalize. Feral cats are mostly silent as they live their lives sneaking around to escape detection. If the cat you found meows or vocalizes as if trying to communicate, it’s most likely someone’s lost pet.

Get the Cat to Safety

What should you do if you find a lost cat? Keep it away from further danger.

Once you’re able to determine that the cat is indeed someone’s lost pet, you can try luring it to safety, like a carrier or the inside of your car, in case you chanced upon the lost cat while you were on the road. If the situation calls for it, prevent the cat from running away by setting up safety barriers.

Offering a tasty treat to a hungry lost cat would often do the trick. If it’s a little hesitant to approach you, make sure to be extra cautious. You might want to take a picture of the cat first, so you can use it to find its owner in case he escapes.

As much as possible, encourage the cat to come to you. Offer the lost cat a treat and wait for them to approach. Other cats would take a little more time to trust you, so you may need to be a little more patient. Don’t chase the cat.

If the cat allows you to touch it, handle him carefully. If the cat is acting aggressive, you might need to call animal rescue for help in capturing the cat.

If the cat is injured, take him to the vet for treatment. If you take the cat home with you, keep him in a separate area away from your pets, as you don’t know if he is ill or has been infected with parasites.


Check for Identification

Identification tags can help you quickly locate the owner. However, the cat you found may not have a collar. Try to take the cat to the vet and see if the cat has been microchipped. Follow the important steps to help you what to do when you find a lost cat.

Check for Missing Pets in Your Area

What to do if you find a lost cat? If you’re unable to identify the cat with a microchip or a collar tag, it’s time to widen your search in your immediate neighborhood as well as surrounding areas. If the cat’s owner is looking for their pet, they may have already posted ads or contacted animal shelters. Here are some of the channels you can check for any reported missing pets:

·         Animal shelters would be among the first place to look if someone has lost a pet. Call shelters near you to see if anyone reported a missing cat that matches the description of the cat in your care.

·         Rescue groups and animal control centers allow you access to information about any reported missing pets in a wider area. Some rescue groups have dedicated websites where you can do a search of missing animals.

·         Lost pet websites like PawMaw.com maintain user-updated lost pet databases which can also help you do location-based searches for reported missing cats.


·         Veterinary hospitals as well as pet supply and grooming shops are also likely place the owner of the missing cat would call for information.

Spread the Word

There’s a chance you’re unable to find matches in all the above-mentioned channels. There are a few more steps you can take to spread word about the lost cat in your possession:

·         Print a lost cat poster and put these up in strategic locations. If you report the lost animal to PawMaw.com, the system can help you automatically generate a lost pet flyer based on the photograph and information you uploaded.


·         What should you do if you find a lost cat? Post an ad listing on all lost & found websites you can find online.


·         Run an ad in the local newspaper or radio station.


·         You can go to local community social media pages where people may be reporting missing and found pets.

Here are some more tips for helping lost four-legged friends with their pet parents.



Now you know what to do when you find your lost cat. While the missing cat is in your care, you have to take full responsibility for its health and welfare. If you’re considering adopting the cat, you can talk to your local animal shelter with regard to state laws about the adoption of lost pets. Usually, there would be a waiting period to allow for the owner to come forward. If you’re unable to adopt the missing cat, you can try contacting family and friends who might be interested to provide a new home for him.


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