Most cats are, by nature, inclined to roam the area surrounding their home. You're likely to come across a stray cat on your travels, although it might be tricky to find out whether it is a stray cat, a feral or is in fact an owned cat with a sense of adventure. So what should you do if you've found a cat?

Feral, stray or owned cat?

Before you do anything, it is important to assess whether the cat you've found is a stray, a feral or an owned cat. If it appears well-groomed and is a healthy weight, it may have an owner nearby.
Ferals behave like wild animals and won't come close, even with encouragement. Stray cats might look lost and disorientated, but may be friendly if given time. Check out Cats Protection's visual guide below for more tips on how to identify the cat you have found.

Stray Cat

  • Do not assume that a friendly cat, which has suddenly started visiting, is necessarily stray and please do not start feeding immediately, as cats will return if they are being fed and you could discourage it from going home. 

  • Ask your neighbours if they recognise the cat – there might be someone in the local area frantically searching for their lost pet.

  • Is the cat sick or injured? If you’re concerned, please take to one of our local vets or call the RSPCA Emergency Line 0300 1234999

  • You can register the cat on 
    Sign up for free and the go to the Register Found Dog section, but choose "Cat" in the breed drop down menu. You can then add a photo and the site will send an email to all local volunteers.

  • Has the cat got a collar or tag? If there are no visible signs of ownership, take the cat to your local veterinary clinic to be scanned for a microchip.

  • You can also put a paper collar on a suspected stray cat, if it will let you approach. You can download and print a Paper Collar template here. Use sticky tape to attach the collar loosely, to allow two fingers to fit underneath, but snug enough that it won't fall off. Use tape along most of the length of the collar, allowing an uncovered paper area, so if the collar does get caught on something, it will rip off without harming the cat. If the cat returns without the collar on, keep replacing with a new one for up to seven days. If no owner has come forward by that time, consider contacting our local branch of Cats Protection or a local Rescue

  • Check local newspapers and listings in case the cat has been listed as missing.

  • Post a photo and brief description on your Facebook page and any local community Facebook groups.

  • Tweet a description and photo of the cat on Twitter and ask your followers to retweet – you’ll reach a larger number of people this way.

  • Go to the Camberley branch of Cats' Protection website or call Cats' Protection’s National Information Line 03000 121212 for more advice.

Information from Cats Protection. 2018

Stray feral Facebook