Where to Take a Stray cat when you Find One

  • By:

    Vicki S.
    Vicki S.

    Author: Vicki S.

    Vicki S. is a professional writer and editor who adores animals and helps readers get along well with their pets. Vicki has been working in digital media for more than 5 years and has great experience writing content about lifestyle, including pets. Vicki specializes in Dog Feeding and Nutrition, Cat and Kitten Food, Dog Care and Training, Aquarium Fish Owner Tips topics. Also, Vicki headed several websites and worked as a news editor.

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  • Updated on: 08/07/2020

Dealing with stray cats can be a tricky business, especially if you have never owned and looked after a feline friend yourself. People are often unsure whether it is safe to approach the cat, whether they should feed it if it’s safe to welcome it into their home, and whether they should take it anywhere. Unfortunately, thousands of stray cats are across the United States of America, so you will likely come across one at some point. Luckily for you, we have created this handy guide to ensure that you know exactly what to do.

Photo by Javid Bunyadzade on Unsplash

How do I know whether a Cat is Stray?

The most critical initial detail to understand is whether the cat you have found is indeed a stray. After all, the last thing you want to do is take in someone else’s cat and deprive them of their beloved pet. The easiest step to take here is to check the animal’s neck for some kind of tag or collar. Most people invest in such collars with the cat’s name and the owners’ contact details. However, just because there is no tag does not mean that the cat is a stray.

If the cat is friendly enough to pet and does not seem violent, the next step should be to take them to the local veterinarian. They should be able to scan them for microchips here. If one is found, the true owner can be contacted and the problem is solved. If there is no chip and no collar, the cat may be a stray. If the cat is too violent or timid to be taken to a veterinarian, you can attach a collar around their neck that asks the owners, if there are any, to contact you. Make sure that it is a break-away collar so that the cat does not become injured by the collar. If you do not receive a call/text, it is possible that the cat does not have an owner.

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What do I do with a Stray Cat?

If you find out that the cat is a stray, there are three main options open to you. You can take the cat in as your own if you are able, willing, and comfortable that the animal is not violent. You could also take the cat to a local shelter, where they will likely be looked after and a charity will attempt to rehome them. Finally, it is not against the law to let the cat go about its business without interfering. Some people are simply not comfortable with risking a violent feline.

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Should I let a Stray Cat into my House?

It is entirely up to you whether you let a stray cat into your house. The important question that you have to ask yourself is, is this cat dangerous? If they hiss and look to bite or scratch whenever you get close, then keeping them outside is always the best call. You can never be sure how clean a stray cat is, after all. If you have young children or babies in the house, you may be more comfortable keeping the cat outside or in a separate part of the house, just in case. If you have other cats or animals, it is best to keep the stray cat separate until a veterinarian has determined that they are free of parasites and disease. 

However, if you deem that the cat looks clean and seems friendly, letting them into your home and offering them something to eat and drink is a kind act. Some people even choose to adopt stray cats as their own after finding them wandering the streets alone. It is far nobler to take in a stray that needs a home than buying a kitten from a breeder. Just make sure that you are 100% sure a cat is stray before adopting it.

What is the difference between a Stray and a Feral Cat?

It is important to understand that a stray cat is not the same as a feral cat. Feral cats are not tamed or used to living around humans, meaning they are often violent and distrusting. These are essentially wild animals and should not be welcomed into the home or approached. They are usually distrusting of humans and it is unlikely that they will come near you. Feral cats are often infected with parasites, so avoiding them is best. On the other hand, stray cats are often tame and housetrained pets that have simply run away or been abandoned.

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Why is this Stray Cat following me?

There are several reasons that a stray cat may be following you around. Strays tend to do this when they are bored and craving some attention from humans. They will also often be on the lookout for some food donations from you. If they are following you around, they are likely a stray cat rather than a feral cat. It also implies that they are friendly and welcome to attention, rather than being timid or violent when approached. There is a good chance that these types of cats could be rehomed if you chose to take it in. However, be sure to check whether they are indeed a stray or if they belong to someone out there.

Am I able to take a Stray Cat to a Veterinarian without Paying a Charge?

Veterinarians usually require payment of an office visit when taking a cat in for a check-up or treatment. However, if you find an injured stray cat that needs urgent attention, you should phone up some of your local veterinarians. Local cat charities will sometimes pay for the treatment of such animals on your behalf if you find them and bring them to the vet. Therefore, it is always worth checking around. If there are no such charities, it is up to you whether you want to take them in and pay the bill. If you accept a stray into your home as a new pet, it is always good to have them checked over by a veterinarian first. This ensures that they are clean and healthy enough to live within a human household, although there are costs involved.

US Organizations to Call or Visit about Stray Cats

Here is a list of people and Organization you should be looking to contact if you find a Stray:

ThePets is an informational website that features articles written by qualified veterinarians and professional writers. You can learn more about our editorial process. When selecting food for your pet, use Pet Food Finder, and search for the clinic to treat your pet using Vet Clinics Locator.

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