Found a Stray Cat

What to do when you’ve found a stray cat

Review definition of a Stray Cat vs. Community / Feral Cat

1. Check for a tag or microchip.

If you’ve found a stray, do the obvious first – check for a tag. If there is a tag, and the owner’s name is on it, call and arrange for a pickup, and know you have done your good deed for the day. If the tag gives the name of a veterinarian’s clinic, call during business hours and get the name and phone number of the owner using the code num­ber on the tag. Then, follow up to return the pet. If the animal has no tag, there may still be a way to identify the stray if he/she has been micro­chipped. A veterinarian can help you find out.

If there’s no tag or microchip, put a temporary tag on the animal with your name and phone number. You can use a luggage label or key tag.

2. Notify your local shelter that you have found a stray animal.

There are different laws in each city regarding stray animals. In some communities, finders of lost animals are legally required to either surren­der the animal to the animal shelter or to report to the shelter that they have a stray animal. Check with your local animal control or animal services department in your city to find out what your legal obligations are. For information on Clark County, Nevada, click here.

Even if you’re not legally required to notify the shelter, you’ll still want to let them know that you have a stray. If the owners of the animal are look­ing for their pet, they will most likely start by call­ing the shelter, so it’s very important that the shel­ter knows that you have found the pet. Also, some shelters have bulletin boards on which people can list lost and found pets, so it’s a good idea to post a photo of the pet at the shelter. To register a found pet in Clark County, Nevada, click here.

If you have some hesitation about trying to find the owner, keep in mind that just because an animal is injured, scared, or without identification does not mean that he has a “bad” home. Your stray might have lost his identification; he might have been lost for a long time; he may even be a rescued ani­mal who was scared when he was adopted.

If you must take the animal to the shelter, and you wish to do everything you can for the animal, be sure to claim last rights. Claiming last rights gives you adoption privileges if the animal is not claimed within a given time period and is due to be put down. It is a good idea to call the shelter daily to let the staff know that you are interested in the animal’s welfare.

3. Make every effort to find the owner.

Check with those living closest to you. Chances are the pet lives in your neighborhood.

Notify your local shelter and check lost-and-found ads in the local newspa­pers, social media networks and neighborhood network groups. Another good strategy is to post flyers in the vicinity where the animal was found.

Post a “Found Cat” ad in newspaper, on social media networks, neighborhood groups, and on lost & found sites/apps. A typical ad describes the type of animal, the location where he/she was found, and the coloring and other distinct characteristics of the animal.

You want to leave out some crucial characteristic, though, so that when someone calls claiming to be the owner, you can verify that the animal really belongs to him/her. This helps guard against turn­ing strays over to bunchers (see an explanation of what bunchers are). For example, you could leave out the gender of the animal, or the fact that she has white socks on her front feet or a really bushy tail. Don’t forget to give your phone number and times you can be reached.

Here are two great sites to post FREE ads:

  1. or the phone app
  2.* or the phone app

*Hint: Once you see the flyer preview, it’s completed. Further paid options are not needed.

Check for a matching animal on Craigslist in the “Lost & Found” and “Pets” and “Free” sections. If you place an ad, ask for email inquiry of proof of ownership to be sent to you.

Keep in mind not everybody is familiar with social media and they will go to the newspaper. In the Las Vegas area, you can place a FREE “Found” ad in the Las Vegas Review-Journal at

4. Be wary of dishonest callers.

When someone answers your ad, make sure the person gives you a detailed description of the animal. To ensure that you have found the animal’s real owner, here are a few additional tips:

  • Ask the caller to bring a photo of and veterinary records for the animal to the meeting place.
  • Ask for their veterinarian’s  name & phone number, and make a follow-up call to the office.
  • Watch how the animal reacts to the caller in person. If you are not satisfied, ask for more proof of ownership.
  • Remember to get the owner’s phone number and address.
  • Ask them to bring their photo ID.
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Disclaimer: The contents of this website are based upon the opinions of All About Purrs, LLC, unless otherwise noted. Individual articles are based upon the opinions of the respective author, who retains copyright as marked. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified veterinarian and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of All About Purrs, LLC through its many years of working with cats. All About Purrs encourages you to make your own pet care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified veterinarian.
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