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What to Do if you Find a Stray Cat

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When figuring out how to best help a stray cat, it’s important to identify whether the feline is a feral community cat born and raised in the wild, or a pet who has become lost or abandoned.
Wild community cats tend to go to great lengths to avoid people. While some may tolerate a bit of contact (especially when food is involved), most are far too fearful to be handled.
Stray domesticated cats, on the other hand, have difficulty coping with life in the wild or on the streets and tend to be reliant on humans. They are comfortable around people and will exhibit housecat-like shows of affections, such as rubbing against legs, purring and meowing.
Once you have determined that the cat is a stray pet, follow these steps:
  1. Take it to a vet to check for a microchip.  If so, its owner is likely to be going crazy looking for it.  The animal could get nervous when you pick it up and accidentally scratch you or become agitated because it does not know where it is being taken. To avoid this situation that is stressful for the animal it is best to look for a box where you can place it and then use as a carrier to take it to the veterinary practice.
  2. If the cat does not have a chip, the next step you should take is adapting a space in your home for the cat. We recommend that it stays away from children and other animals (if you have one) to minimize its stress level and so it can relax in this environment that is unfamiliar to it. Taking it in is vital to safeguarding it from the dangers it could encounter outdoors.
To find its owner you can prepare some posters with the picture of the animal and your contact details and hang them in the area where you found the cat and in the surrounding streets to cover a larger area. Sharing on Social Media, like Facebook, is also a good way to find the owners.
While waiting for the owner you will have to feed the animal, giving it water and affection to have it remain calm and stop being afraid.
  1. If after some days, nobody contacts you, it may be that the animal does not belong to anyone or, worse still, that they have abandoned it. The next step you should do is contact an animal protection charity that can help you find a new home for it. If you live on Virginia’s Northern Neck, contact us.  We will search for an ideal home for the cat.  We will ask you to keep it and take care of it, to avoid it having more stress during this time; however, if you cannot keep it, we will take it into our custody.
  2. There is also the option for you to keep it and adopt it. In this case, it is best that you take it to the vet for a checkup; have it spayed/neutered; give it the vaccinations it needs and receive advice on its basic care.  GRI volunteers are also available to answer any questions you may have.

    If the stray that you have found is a kitten, please visit Found Stray Kittens.

PO Box 257 •  Kilmarnock, VA 22482  •  (804) 480-2066 •  garfieldsrescue [ at ]