HELP! I found a stray cat

Help – I found a stray cat. What do I do?

Lost-Cat-Flyer-flier-exampleThis is the most common question we get through our Community Cat Program.


Many times people jump to the conclusion that if a cat is outside then it must have been abandoned, when in reality, cats roam and by taking the cat to a shelter you are removing it from his/her home. If a cat is healthy it probably has a caretaker and in many cases it has multiple caretakers. In particular, when cats are not fixed they roam a great deal in search of a mate. In Indy we often run into people in
a neighborhood who all claimed the same cat as theirs but never realized that their neighbors were also taking care of the same cat.

Shelters can’t save and support the HUGE number of accidental litters, stray and family cats brought to their doors everyday. Trap-neuter-return the cats (via a community cat program first rather than taking them to the shelter) Community cat programs allow the public to care and manage the cats in their home neighborhood while at the same time creating a safety net/ monitoring system to identify cats that are in need or medical care or not faring well outdoors.

If you find a stray cat, here are some simple, but important, tips to follow:

Lost pets that are on the streets for weeks or months will be dirty, thin and possibly have fleas. Despite their appearance the animal may have escaped from a wonderful home. Don’t assume that an animal has been neglected or abandoned just because he or she appears to be in rough shape.

Contact Indy Lost Pet Alert

Take all found animals to a local vet or shelter so they can be scanned for a microchip. We’re happy to scan found animals for a chip..

If the animal doesn’t have an ID tag, make sure you get one with your name and number. This way, if the pet gets lost again, there’s a chance the animal may be returned to you.

If you take the animal to a shelter, be sure to claim “first and last rights.” This means that you can adopt the animal if the animal is unclaimed and is due to be euthanized. You should also call the animal control facility daily to let the staff know you are interested in the animal’s welfare.

Check the lost-and-found sections of the newspapers published outside of your immediate area. Lost pets can and often do travel a good distance.

Take a good photo of the animal and write a basic description of him or her. You can use a free program at Pet Bond to create lost pet flyers. Be sure you leave out some information so you can ask specific questions of possible owners to help verify ownership.

Post flyers in the area where the animal was found, as well as on local business bulletin boards.

Email flyers to your friends, family and other people who live near you, as well as in surrounding areas. Post flyers across social media platforms and also look for lost pet resources on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Food and Water

Step one is making sure this cat has access to clean food and water. One instinct that people have is to offer cats milk. Please choose water. It’s better for cats’ digestion.

Provide Shelter

It’s important, especially in the winter, to provide shelter for community cats. Here are a list of resources to help.

Get Them Fixed

No matter where this cat will eventually live, making sure that it is spayed or neutered is the best way to ensure it is not contributing to the animal over population problem that put it on the streets in the first place.  FACE offers a Community Cat Package that includes spay/neuter and vaccines.

If the cat is not a friendly stray you can still help!

Return or Rehome

Once your stray is fixed and vaccinated it’s time to find it a home. Many cats do well returned to the areas they came from and can be cared for as part of a managed colony. Others cannot be returned to the areas they were found and need to relocated or found homes. You can find help rehoming friendly strays here.

Translate »