Gotcha! How to help a lost cat

Cats go missing all too often and here at Cats Protection Brighton and District not a day goes by when we don’t see a poster that a worried owner has stuck up in the hope of finding them.

Street cat. Photo credit: AngelEowyn, Carmen Wolters on Deviant Art
Street cat. Photo credit: AngelEowyn, Carmen Wolters on Deviant Art

There can be many reasons for a cat to go missing, such as becoming lost, getting locked in a neighbour’s shed, chasing a bird or mouse a bit too far, getting stuck up a tree or being involved in an accident – the list is endless.

We wrote a guide about what to do if your beloved pet goes missing.

But what happens if you are the person to find a lost, stray or injured cat? What should you do to get it back to their owner as quickly as you can?

If the worst happens…

Let’s address the worst case scenario first.

Unfortunately, lost or disorientated cats are at risk of being involved in car accidents because they may not know the area, or because they are desperate to find home. If you come across a cat that is severely injured or dead it can be a very distressing event.

Again, a vet can scan a deceased or injured cat to find a microchip and it is worth sticking up ‘found’ posters in the local area to alert the owner to the bad news. You can also alert your local City Council if you do not wish to handle the situation all by yourself.

If you have found an injured cat, he or she might be scared and not want you to touch it. In this case it is worth letting neighbours near-by know of the injured cat in case it is theirs. You can also alert your local veterinary surgery.

If it is being friendly, you can follow the advice below.

Some lost cats are simply hiding from you

Is the cat lost?

If the cat is not injured or worse, first, you should ensure the cat is definitely lost. This can be difficult to determine because some cats may simply be feral without an owner.

You may see a cat that you do not recognise, which looks out of place on the roads, distressed and bedraggled. The weather can help determine if the cat has a warm and safe place to stay, because if you see an unhappy cat without shelter in the rain, it may indicate it can’t find home.

If you decide to approach the cat, remember to take caution as it may be afraid of you. It is best to entice the kitty with some food and make friends and then start looking for the owner.

Check for a collar

The collar may have details of the owner on it. If so, you can call them and tell them the good news.

You should also check with your neighbours to see if they recognise the cat or know of anyone whose cat has gone missing.

Take the cat to your local veterinary surgery

The quickest way to find a pet’s owner is to take it to the local vets, to see if it has a microchip. If so, the vet can scan it and immediately find the registered contact details of the owners and contact them for you.

Call your local Cats Protection branch

There are still some cases when pets have not been microchipped. You can call or email your local branch.

At Cats Protection Brighton and District the publicity team will put out messages about the found cat on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages to try and find the owner and our number is 01273 610 306.

A picture of the cat will always help to find the owner quicker than no picture, so send an image of the cat with as much information as possible.

Check ‘missing cat’ posters in the local area

Most cat owners will take action when their cat goes missing by putting up missing cat posters in the local area with a picture of the cat and their contact details.

Put a paper collar on the cat

If the cat is friendly, you could try putting a paper collar around the cat’s neck. Write a message on the collar, such as ‘please call this number if this is your cat’ with your number before letting them back on the street. This helps to determine if the cat has an owner. If they call, it will reassure you that the cat is safe and well and it will also illustrate to the owner how far the cat has ventured.

Put up ‘found’ posters

If there is no call, then it could be worth making some ‘found’ posters and sticking them up in your local area. Again, use a picture of the cat and add some details to it such as when you found the cat and on what road. It is best to stick the posters in places where a lot of people will see them, such as on well-located lamp posts, in your local vet surgery, or ask the owner of your local convenience store if they will put it on their window.

Make the kitty a temporary shelter

If you are unable to keep the cat at home, you may wish to make it more comfortable by making him/her a shelter in a dry area the cat tends to visit regularly. A simple cardboard box with an old blanket, towel or some straw will keep the cat warm. You may wish to give them some food too.

Cat in a basket

Other organisations to contact in the UK:
Local radio stations

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11 thoughts on “Gotcha! How to help a lost cat

  1. Ritu says:

    Invaluable advice… We recently found our neighbours cat in the worst possible scenario…? RIP Felix.
    At least we knew him.
    But his owners are both sufferers of mental health issues as we had to broach the subject so very carefully, and get the cat scanned to make sure it was him….

  2. samanthamurdochblog says:

    Such good advice and Cats Protection do amazing work. All my girls are microchipped as it would break my heart if anything happened…why won’t more people take the time to get it done?

  3. tarnegolita says:

    I once had a cat that went missing for two weeks… but came back thanks to the efforts of a kind-hearted person and a ‘missing pet’-service! This was before the time of micro-chipping. Anyway I have never been so grateful to someone! <3

  4. Pingback: Gotcha! How to help a lost cat – Rattiesforeverworldpresscom

  5. trishafaye says:

    Reblogged this on Scooter's Tale and commented:
    I always love when I see a post that contains useful information. This is one. Lots of tips and advice about how to help a lost cat. Check it out. And while you’re there, browse around and see the rest of the wonderful content at Katzenworld.

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