What should you do if you find a stray cat? Sadly, we often receive stray cats into the practice. The best outcome is if the cat is microchipped and we can reunite it with its owners, but this is not always the case.
Most cats are by nature inclined to roam, either near their home or further afield. The first thing to do is to establish if the cat is genuinely a stray. Approach the cat carefully, as a nervous or injured cat may be aggressive. A safe way to move a cat is to cover it with a blanket or towel and gently lift it into a box.
If you can handle the cat, you could look at its paws. Stray cats which have been living outdoors for a while will have tough pads on their paws. Cat’s which have a home usually have softer pads and they look well groomed and well fed.
Check if the cat has a collar with a name tag on it.Some of these tags have the owner’s phone number or address. If not, take your cat to a vet, who can scan to check for a microchip.
You could ask around the neighbourhood to see if anyone knows about the cat. Also, you could post a photo on facebook. We manage to re-home quite a few animals via facebook now. It’s also worth placing a sign or poster in the local shops and surrounding area: not everybody uses facebook yet!
In the meantime, keep the cat safe. Offer him food and water. Ideally, get some cat food, but if you can’t, cooked chicken is a reasonable alternative until you can get some cat food. Avoid cow’s milk, as a significant number of cats don’t tolerate cow’s milk and it can cause tummy upsets. Fresh water is fine. You can also give them and old towel or blanket to make a bed and keep warm.
If you have a concern for the cat’s health, and you can handle him, take him to your vet. Vets will provide first aid when required and they can contact local charities to help with costs of treatment. The Cats Protection (www.cats.org.uk) are the main cat charity in Northern Ireland.
It is worth noting that there is difference between a stray cat and a feral cat. A stray cat is used to human contact and is missing form its home. A feral cat will shy away from human contact, hasn’t lived in a household and likely has a hiding spot somewhere in the area.
NOTE: Whilst this article has been written by a qualified veterinary surgeon, it should not be taken as advice, If you are concerned about your pet’s health you should always take them to see your vet.