What to Do if you Find an Abandoned Cat

By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: September 2, 2018
What to Do if you Find an Abandoned Cat

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Have you ever seen a cat that appears to be abandoned in the street? You will probably have wondered what you should do, such as "is the cat truly abandoned, or is it exploring?", "should I touch it?", "can I give it food?", and most importantly: "can I pick it up and take it home?"

This is a complex issue, and the abandonment of dogs and cats is an increasingly common problem. Many people don't know how to deal with the responsibility of keeping a pet, and they choose to leave it in the street rather than giving it up for adoption and ensuring it can find a good forever home.

Are you wondering what to do if you find an abandoned cat? At AnimalWised we'll give you some guidelines to help you and make sure the cat's story has a happy ending.

You may also be interested in: What to Do if you Find a Lost Dog

Is the cat really abandoned?

Cats are natural explorers and, despite being domestic animals, most of them still retain some wild traits, including the urge to go out and see the world. It might be the case that you find a cat in the street and think it is abandoned, but that in fact it has a safe home to go back to at the end of the day.

The first thing to do, then, is work out whether the cat is really abandoned or if it's just out for a stroll. Watch the cat carefully and assess its physical state and behavior:

  • If you see that the cat is wearing a collar, is rummaging around for food but not desperately, wants to enter your home, is of a healthy weight and has a healthy coat, it probably has a house of its own.
  • If the cat is in poor condition, appears to be malnourished, has some signs of disease, or is very wary and even frightened, you've found an abandoned cat.
What to Do if you Find an Abandoned Cat - Is the cat really abandoned?

Tell people you have found an abandoned cat

Before informing the neighbors, you should make sure that the place where you found the abandoned cat isn't going to put its safety at risk. Check if there is somewhere it can take shelter, and that it's not close to a motorway or train track.

If you've already got this under control and you think the cat can survive for a few hours, proceed to spread the word. Take a picture of the cat with your phone and ask the locals if they have lost a cat. Go to the official offices, vet clinics and animal associations. Use social media to spread the word.

You can also print posters with the cat's photo and your telephone number in case the owner wants to contact you. Remember that cats like to travel long distances.

What to Do if you Find an Abandoned Cat - Tell people you have found an abandoned cat

Do I take it or leave it?

If the supposedly abandoned cat isn't safe where you found it, you need to work to gain its trust and get it to come with you - or at least, to not put up a fight when you pick it up. You need to be patient and have some spare time.

Place some food down, and as the abandoned cat eats it, put more food down on the floor. Doing this will make the abandoned cat feel somewhat confident and safe. After the cat has eaten, try to get closer or sit on the floor and let it get closer to you. Have a nice blanket at hand, which will keep it warm when you have it in your arms. This is a labor of love.

What to Do if you Find an Abandoned Cat - Do I take it or leave it?

What to do when you take an abandoned cat home

If you find an abandoned cat, you'll have to take it to the vet and check its physical condition and see if it has an ID chip or not. If it doesn't, you can take it home with you. When some days have passed and nobody has gotten in contact with you, you can start thinking about the next step: finding the cat a new owner.

Take some time to think. Do you have enough space in your home to keep a cat? Do you have the time and resources to care for it? If so, you can adopt the cat. Otherwise, it's best to look after it for a few days and focus on finding it a new family. It's true that cats are more independent than dogs, but they're still living creatures who deserve our respect and care.

What to Do if you Find an Abandoned Cat - What to do when you take an abandoned cat home

What to do if you find an abandoned kitten

Kittens are more fragile, so you need to act as soon as possible. When you find an abandoned kitten, the first thing you need to do is check that the mother isn't present, and wait up to 3 hours for her return. In the event that the kitten is alone, it will be very scared but not aggressive - it's only a kitten after all.

You should pick up the young kitten and look for the quickest possible way to feed it, because without its mother there is a chance that it won't survive - here you can learn all about caring for kittens. After that, take it to a specialist.

You must be even more careful and patient if the mother is present and understand that now that you have found more than one abandoned cats, the whole process will become exponentially more complicated. In this situation, going to a vet and contacting the closest animal associations and shelters is always the best thing to do for abandoned cats.

What to Do if you Find an Abandoned Cat - What to do if you find an abandoned kitten

If you want to read similar articles to What to Do if you Find an Abandoned Cat, we recommend you visit our Basic care category.

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1 comment
donald moore
I have a small cat living in a old truck at my gas station. I have been feeding it but its front pawl is hurt . it is black and white
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Donald,

If you are looking after the cat, then you will need to take them to the vet anyway. They will need shots and an examination, then they can get their paw looked at. If you can't take the responsibility, then you will need to take them somewhere their needs can be met. Do you know where your nearest anima shelter is?
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