What to do if you find a cat:
Hopefully, if you find a lost cat you can bring it home and look after it at least until you have done some initial searching for the owner or are able to find a safe place for him to go. This article will look at different places to try and locate the owner.
Is the cat really lost?
It's not always easy to determine if the cat is lost or not. If you are not sure, it is generally recommended that you purchase a cheap cat collar and attach a note with your phone number on it and ask the owners to call you to confirm the cat has a home. If after a day or so the cat is still around, and you have not been contacted, then it's time to start looking for the owners.
If you can keep the cat at your home:
If you have other pets in the home, do isolate the found cat as you won't know his medical history and he may inadvertently pass on something contagious to your own pets.
If you have brought him to your home, do give him some food and water (don't give him milk). Try to make him comfortable.
Some cats may be feral, it is not advised you attempt to catch and handle a feral cat, instead contact your local council or shelter and ask them what to do. Most times a humane trap will be left out to catch the cat.
Check for identification:
The first thing, of course, is to check to see if it has any identification around his neck. Obviously, if you are reading this article, the chances are that it doesn't. The majority of cats today will have a microchip. This is a small chip that is injected under the skin at the scruff of the neck. Each microchip has a unique number, which is stored in a central database. Veterinarians and shelters have a hand held scanning device to check the cat for a chip. If one is found, they can then contact the database and retrieve the information on the owner.
Print out some flyers:
Next, print out some flyers and pass them around your neighbourhood. Hand some into your local veterinarian's office, local schools, scout halls, community bulletin boards etc. Try to be as descriptive as possible. A photo is great if you can get one, as a picture really is worth a thousand words. Include a contact number on the flyer. Mobile is best as most of us have our mobile with us the majority of the time. Put tabs on the bottom of the flyer with your number on, so that people can rip it off and call you when they get home.
This is a huge avenue for locating the possible owner. Take a photo of the cat and look for Facebook groups in your area. Most cities, towns, suburbs have a local Facebook group. Post a photo of the cat there. There's a good chance even if the owner doesn't see the photo, a friend of a friend may. Ask your friends to spread the word.
Do a door knock of the area, again with a photo of the cat in question. If you are a minor, do make sure you have an adult with you.
Another great place to advertise a found cat is your local paper, who should have a lost and found pets section.
Call the local council and ask if they have a lost and found section. They may be able to register the cat's details and pass on your information should somebody call.
The next place to call is your local animal shelters. See if you can fax or email a photo of the cat with a description for them to register.
Online (forums/lost and found boards etc):
Do a search online to see if there are any pet or local area forums where you can post details of the cat you have found.
What to do if you can't keep the cat:
I'm sure there are plenty of people who find a cat and are unable to give it a temporary home until the owner can be located. This is understandable, not everybody is in the position to be able to take in a lost cat.
If you find a cat you can't take in the best place to try is your veterinarian's office. Many will take in lost cats on a temporary basis. So do contact local vets first. If you don't have a cat carrier, a sturdy cardboard box will do, make sure it has some breathing holes.
If there are no vets in the area, or they are unable to help you, the next place is your local shelter. If there is a no kill shelter that is even better.
What if you want to keep the cat?
Of course, you must check the cat for identification first, and make attempts to locate the owner. I am sure if he's a missing cat, he is well loved and very much missed. It is extremely important you do your very best to find the owner of the cat. If this is not possible, and you have exhausted all other avenues, maybe you could give him a good home. But make sure you look for the rightful owners first.