Unlike with dogs, there are very few laws that give cats any legal protection. The number of stray cats is on the increase and one of our most frequently asked questions is what to do if you find a stray cat. What should I do if I find a stray cat? Councils and local authorities have no legal responsibility to deal with stray cats. While dog wardens have an obligation to take in stray dogs, this law does not apply to cats. Often cats seem to be strays but actually have a home. Due to their nature they do tend to roam and can appear to be lost. A cat that is hanging around looking for food, or trying to get into your house may have a home not far away, so you need to be sure they are genuinely homeless before assuming they are stray and either taking it to a rehoming centre, or deciding to take it in yourself. We suggest putting a paper collar on the cat you think might be a stray and writing a message and your telephone number on it asking the owner to call you if the cat is theirs. Ask your neighbours if their cat is missing or if they recognise the cat. There may well be someone searching frantically for their much loved lost pet. Consider putting up a ‘found’ poster with a photo of the cat and giving your contact details so the owner can get in touch if they see it. Many areas have ‘lost and found pets’ groups on Facebook, so have a look to see if there is one for your neighbourhood. Vets and rescue centres also keep lost and found lists, so make sure you check with those local to you too. I have found a stray cat. Can Blue Cross help? Blue Cross finds homes for many stray cats each year and we are happy to help stray cats that are brought to our centres, but we are only able to take them in if we have space. Please contact your nearest Blue Cross rehoming centre to see if we have space to look after them. If we are unable to take the stray cat in we can help you find an alternative solution. If you have found an injured stray cat then please take them to one of our animal hospitals, if you live close enough, or to any vet who will be able to provide emergency care. Can I keep a stray cat? If you would like to keep the stray cat as your own pet and have been unable to find the owner using the tips above, first check whether the cat is microchipped by taking them to your vet to have them scanned. Cats have been known to jump into cars and vans and accidently travel many miles away from home, so a microchip can sometimes be the only way of tracking down an owner. If you have made a really good attempt to find the cat’s owner and wish to keep them as your own pet, you must be able to give them all the care they need to stay happy and healthy. I’ve found a litter of kittens. What should I do? If you find one or more kittens, first check to see if their mother is about. If there is no sign of their mum, try to leave the kittens undisturbed and keep an eye on them for a couple of hours to see if she comes back. She may not be far away, but frightened to return to them while you are there. Don’t be tempted to handle the kittens, as this may deter her from coming back to them. If mum still hasn’t come back after a few hours then the kittens will need to be taken in urgently as they won’t be able to fend for themselves without her. Contact a vet or pet charity like Blue Cross to get them taken in and cared for as soon as possible. If the mum is there, the kittens don’t need to be moved immediately if they’re in a safe place, and there’s time to make arrangements for them to be taken into a rehoming centre. When you call the rehoming centre, give them as much detail as possible about where the kittens are, whether or not their mum is there, and how big they are so the expert can advise you on the best thing to do in this situation. If the mum is around, she needs to be scanned for a microchip to see if she has an owner close by. Do not be tempted to keep a litter of kittens. They will need veterinary care, worming, vaccination and neutering before being rehomed, so it’s best to hand them in to a rehoming centre as soon as possible. I accidently hit a cat with my car. What should I do? Sadly it is not uncommon for cats to be involved in road traffic accidents. Although there is no law requiring you to report hitting a cat with your car, making an attempt to let the owner know is a kind thing to do if you can. If the cat is alive but injured and able to be caught, try to take them to the nearest vet for emergency care. The vet can then try to find an owner, or may have an arrangement with a local rehoming centre that can take the cat in after treatment. If the cat runs away, there’s little you can do, other than keep an eye on out for lost cat posters and on social media in case someone is looking for their cat. If the cat is killed and you can bring yourself to pick it up, you can take it to a vet or rehoming centre to be scanned for a microchip. This is not an easy thing to do, but try to think about how you would feel if it was your pet – it’s much better for owners to know what’s happened to their cat if possible. At the very least, try to make a note of the description of the cat, colour, sex, collar etc in case someone is looking for them. Advice for cat owners Microchipping your cat gives you the best chance of getting them back if they go missing. Even if your cat wears a collar displaying your contact details make sure your cat is microchipped in case the collar falls off your cat. Cats are regularly brought to Blue Cross animal hospitals and rehoming centres by people who think they are strays. If a cat is microchipped then we can contact the owner and reunite them with their much loved pet quickly. Sadly, if a cat is not microchipped we are often unable to return cats to their owners because we have no way of contacting them. Make sure your contact details are correct. You can check your details are up to date by phoning the microchip database. Add your mobile phone number to your contact details so you can be reached if you are not at home. Let your microchip database know as soon as your cat goes missing so they can put a note on your pet’s record for when they are found. If your cat goes missing: Put up posters in your local area which show a good photo of your cat and give your contact details Ask your neighbours to check their garages, sheds and cars and keep a look out Contact the local vets and pet charity rehoming and rescue centres and give them copies of your missing poster so they can contact you if your cat is brought to them.
Found a Cat Who Needs Help? First, thank you for wanting to help the stray cat/kittens that you have found. Your help and efforts can make a huge difference in the life of this animal. // If you have found kittens, click here to go to a page that has information specific to stray kittens. If you are looking for a new home for your pet, we will not be able to assist you directly. Our rescue focuses on stray and abandoned cats. We do not take in people’s pets, unless the cats were originally adopted from us. If you need to return a cat that was adopted from Stray Cat Blues, click here. Otherwise, we ask you to first reconsider if there is a way for you to keep your cat. If the issue is behavioral, please see our Resources page (click here) or search online for other information. If you cannot resolve your issue, then we do have a list of other Area Shelters and Rescue Groups (click here). Here is also a page with ideas to place the cat yourself into a new home – click here. The next step is to assess whether the cats are friendly or feral. Friendly cats can generally be petted, picked up. They meow and purr and seek out attention. Feral cats in contrast may seem skittish, hissy, or aggressive. They may not let you get too close to them. For feral cats, we recommend Trap Neuter Return. To see information on this topic, click here to go to our TNR page. If you just want to deter feral cats from your yard, click here for a list of humane suggestions. If the cat is friendly, we recommend that you bring the cat inside if you haven’t already. (Click herefor information and links to trapping information.) This may seem difficult or impossible to do, but remember this arrangement is only temporary. Consider keeping the rescued cats/kittens in a spare room, basement, or garage. They can be confined in your house inside a large cage, dog crate or cat playpen if you need to restrict their access to other areas of your home. We can offer advice and assistance on trapping a wary or frightened cat. We have a few traps that can be loaned out with a refundable deposit. Don’t forget to provide the cat with a litterbox and food/water. You should keep the rescued cat separate from any pet cats that you have in your home until the cat can be checked by a vet. You will then want to try to place the cat, either with a rescue or directly into a home. Click here for a page with information about how to try to place a cat directly. Click here for a list of Area Rescues and Shelters, or see the link at the bottom of this page. Contact rescues in your immediate area. The more places that you contact the more likely to find a placement. If you are in our service area (Bucks and Montgomery Counties and the immediately surrounding areas), then you can contact us to see if one of our foster homes has space to take in the cat(s). Click here to fill out an Intake Request Form. If you are placing a cat directly into a home, please be aware that sadly there are people out there who would want to take a cat and harm or kill him. Never offer a cat “free to a good home”, as these cats are easy prey to these disturbed types of people. (Cats have been sold to labs, fed to snakes, or used for dog fighting bait.) When placing a cat, check vet references. A person who genuinely wants to give the cat a good home will understand your wanting to be careful. We do our best to help cats in our community. Be aware though that we receive in many more requests each week to take in cats and kittens than we are able to accommodate. So we cannot guaranty that we will be able to take cats that you contact us about. If we are able to take a cat, our foster home may contact you directly to make arrangements. If you cannot find a placement for the cat immediately, keep trying. Space in rescue groups tends to be fluid as cats are adopted out and new cats are accepted. Also, reconsider if you can find space in your heart and home to keep the cat yourself. If you cannot find a placement and the cat must remain outside – If the cats/kittens must remain outside please provide them with food, water, and suitable shelter. An insulated, weatherproof box should be placed slightly off the ground in a protected area. Use straw inside for comfort and additional warmth – NOT blankets, which retain moisture and make it colder. The door opening should only be large enough for the cats to enter. Female cats can have as many as three litters a year. If your rescued cats will remain outside, you should get them spayed or neutered as soon as possible. Click here for a list of low-cost spay and neuter clinics. It’s extremely important to get the rescued cats vaccinated for rabies, especially if they will remain outside. In some counties, the Health Department requires any animal with a wound of unknown origin to be either euthanized and tested for rabies or quarantined for six months at your expense. If the cats are scratched, bitten, or injured outside and not current with the rabies vaccination, they may end up being euthanized. // Other Cat Rescue Groups October 2016This list contains both Kill and No-Kill rescues and shelters in the Philadelphia area. Be sure you understand the euthanasia policies of any group before placing a cat with them.6 October 2016 Shelters List.doc Microsoft Word document