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Concerned cat lovers are always eager to help out when they find unattended animals. With the appropriate precautions, it’s often safe and easy to do just that.
Feral Cats, Strays, and Lost Cats
Not all wandering felines will happily welcome the love and support of a concerned cat lover. While friendly strays are usually familiar with (or at least receptive to) human attention, some cats have not experienced successful socialization. As such, they’re far less approachable and tend to necessitate taking precautions.
Feral cats have had little to no human contact. Stray cats generally show more trust in people. Many have had human caretakers to provide for them at one point, though time on their own could lead them to become fully feral. Lost cats have recently become separated from their owners. These cats probably have people keen to locate them and your attention could help make a speedy reunion possible.
Signs a Cat Is Feral
- Will not readily approach you and may hide or run away when approached.
- Avoids eye contact.
- Does not meow or otherwise vocalize in your direction.
- Appears clean and well fed, as if to suggest that they are used to fending for themselves.
- Lives with or regularly interacts with a group of cats.
If you’ve got a feral cat hanging around your home, it’s best not to take matters into your own hands. Consider reaching out to a local rescue group or animal control authority. They may suggest attempting to capture the cat and bringing them in to be spayed or neutered.
Alternatively, if the cat is young enough for effective socialization, the organization may be able to accept the cat, provide care, and put them up for adoption.
Handling a Lost or Stray Cat
Feral cats may not want or need your help, but here’s how to safely lend a hand and, hopefully, find a home for your new feline friend.
- Capture and Contain the Cat: Always take care to approach unfamiliar animals slowly. Speak in a calm, clear voice and try using food. A cat probably won’t enjoy being held, so use a cat carrier or box to safely transport them and keep them confined. Be sure to keep them separated from other pets and offer both food and fresh water. If you cannot safely approach a wandering animal, contact the appropriate authorities for support.
- Check for ID: Helping a cat find their way home could be as simple as calling the number on their identification tag. Even cats without collars may have identifying information in the form of microchips. Bring these critters into a local animal hospital or shelter and the employees can help you scan for a chip to potentially reunite them with their owners.
- Search Online: Have any local cats gone missing? A quick online search could help you find out. Post pictures and descriptions on social media and browse around for descriptions of similar lost pets. Make sure to ask for proof of ownership before handing a cat over to anyone you don’t know.
- Find Them a New Home: If all else fails, you may need to help find a new home for your kitten. You can adopt them yourself, find a responsible friend or family member, or leave them in the care of a reputable organization.
Need help finding a suitable pet parent? Check out this guide to responsible cat ownership to assess potential candidates.
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