How to Find a Stray Cat’s Home

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Occasionally when caring for your colony, or just hanging out in your own back yard, you may be approached by a friendly cat whom you suspect has a family. She’ll act a little differently than other community catsshe’ll be friendly, approach you and could even look like she’s not used to being on her own.

If you think someone is missing this kitty, follow these seven tips to help you find her home:

1. Does she have a tag or microchip? A vet or rescue group can check to see if the cat has a permanent form of identification called a microchip. If she does, the veterinarian or rescue group can call the microchip registry to let them know this kitty has been found and will attempt to contact her caregiver to reunite them.

If she has a collar, call any numbers on the tagwhich might lead you to her guardian.

2. Call local shelters. Guardians may call shelters and pounds when looking for a lost cat, and shelters sometimes keep lists to match inquiries. Check the shelter’s website for a lost and found page.

3. We strongly discourage taking the cat to a sheltershe may be killed there.

If you’re unable to temporarily foster the kitty while you look for her family, it’s always better to leave her outside. It’s in her best interest to stay outdoors versus going to the shelter; more than 60% of cats who are lost go home on their own[1]. Leaving her outside really is protecting her.

4. Check your local paper’s lost and found ads, in print and online. Also check Craigslist.

5. Spread the word! Place your own ads. Post flyers near where you found the cat. Describe the cat’s color, fur length, where she was found, and a photo. Include your contact info.

6. Be wary of dishonest callers. Ask callers to describe the cat in-depth and provide a reference such as a veterinarian.

7. If you don’t end up finding her home, she might just be a very friendly stray. If you want to try to find her a home, follow our adoption tips.


[1] Lord, L.K., et al., Search and identification methods that owners use to find a lost dog. J Am Vet Med Assoc., 2007. 230(2): p. 211-6.

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