Catster is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

What Do You Do if You Find a Stray Cat? 4 Vet-Reviewed Steps to Take

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on June 20, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

cat sitting on the fence

What Do You Do if You Find a Stray Cat? 4 Vet-Reviewed Steps to Take


Dr. Luqman Javed Photo


Dr. Luqman Javed

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

Stray cats are common in almost every part of the world. As such, it’s certainly not rare for you to run into a stray cat. You might even have one that’s staying near your house that you repeatedly notice. It could even be coming straight to your home. Of course, that might be due to the fact that you’re leaving food for it on the porch! But even if you’re not leaving food out for them, stray cats can appear out of nowhere and might even be frequenting your property.

So, what should you do if you find one of these many stray cats? Can you just keep it? Should you avoid it altogether? Are you supposed to provide some care, or should you call the authorities? In this article, we’re going to provide the answers you need so that you know exactly what you should and shouldn’t do if you happen to find a stray cat.

3 cat divider

The 4 Steps to Take if You Find a Stray Cat

If you find a stray cat, the following steps are an acceptable way to approach the situation.

1. Can You Approach Them Safely?

First, you must figure out if you can approach the cat safely or if it’s likely to attack you. You’re going to need more information about this cat, which you might be able to get if you can get up close. But if the cat seems aggressive, then it’s probably best to just walk away.

homeless cat
Image by: Dimitris Vetsikas, Pixabay

2. Attempt to Identify the Cat

If you can get close to the cat, your first goal is to identify it. Look for a collar that might identify the cat and could even provide a phone number. On longhaired cats, the collar could be buried under a lot of fur. If you can’t find a collar, you might consider taking the cat to a vet to check for a microchip. Don’t just assume that the cat is feral or stray. It might be someone’s pet that’s simply lost. When lost or displaced, a curious pet cat may end up at your house.

3. Try to Find the Owners

Should you be able to identify the cat, it shouldn’t be too difficult to return it to the rightful owners. But if identification wasn’t possible, then you may need to look for the owner through other methods. Ask around the neighborhood and see if anyone is missing the cat or knows of another neighbor who is.

If you haven’t done so yet, take the cat to a vet or shelter and get them checked for a microchip. You can even put up signs in the area signifying that you have found the lost cat. Social media posts can also help in finding a missing cat’s owner.

cat on the fence
Image by: katya-guseva0, Pixabay

4. Care for the Cat in the Meantime

While you’re attempting to find the owners, make sure to provide adequate care for the cat as if it was your own pet. You can offer food, water, and a warm place to sleep. Make sure you don’t get too attached at this point though, as the cat could go home any day.

cat paw divider

Can You Keep a Stray Cat if You Can’t Find the Owners?

Once you’ve taken every reasonable measure to locate the cat’s original owners and you can’t find any sign of them, then you might think about adopting the cat. Many cats are abandoned by their families and some are just born feral.

The cat you’ve found could be either, but if you wish to adopt it, there’s usually no reason that you can’t. That said, don’t force a cat to stay with you if it clearly doesn’t want to. If both you and the cat seem comfortable with the situation, then adoption is worth consideration.

calico cat lying outdoor
Image by: user32212, Pixabay

What to Do if You Find an Injured Stray Cat

When approaching a cat that you think might be injured, you’ll need to be extra cautious. An injured animal will be wary and possibly more aggressive than normal. They could already be scared and feeling threatened since they’re unable to properly protect themselves.

In such a situation, you may not be able to approach at all. You should call your local humane society. If you can’t approach the animal, they can send someone out to take care of them. Or, if you’re able to approach the cat and find that it’s injured, you can take the animal to the humane society or vet; they help sick and injured stray animals.

3 cat face divider


If you find a cat, don’t immediately jump to the conclusion that it’s feral or stray. Take care when approaching the cat and if you can, try to find their owner. If you’re unable to find their owner after making reasonable efforts, you can consider adopting the cat, if you both seem to be comfortable with the living situation. But try your hardest to find the cat’s original owners. If your pet was lost, you’d want to find them too! The original owners may not be around though, in which case, the decision about what to do next is up to you.

Featured Image: Andrii Salomatin, Shutterstock

Get Catster in your inbox!

Stay informed! Get tips and exclusive deals.
Catster Editors Choice Badge
Shopping Cart


© Pangolia Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved.