Help a Cat Find Her Home

What to do if a feral or stray shows up in your yard, workplace or place you frequent.

If a cat is clearly tame and approachable, but with no identification, take him/her to a vet to scan for a microchip and check for neutering. Most vets, even if they don't know you as a client, will scan for a chip and also do a quick shave of a female's belly to look for a spay scar. With males it's usually pretty obvious. If there's no chip, or no traceable owner in the chip database, then you need to start looking for kitty's home right away.

You can start by running an ad in the paper, file a report with your local animal control jurisdiction, put up flyers around the area, and ask all your neighbors if anyone recognizes the cat or knows someone who has lost one. If the cat seems to be well cared for, you can also make a temporary collar and write, "If this is your cat, please call XXX-XXXX”, and then put the cat outside.  Hopefully you will receive a call and can communicate any information you have about the cat.   

You will also need to read all the "lost pet" ads and flyers that you come across. If you don't get any responses in the first couple weeks, chances are you won't. 

If you don’t locate an owner, you have to decide what to do with the kitty. You may consider taking the cat to a shelter or humane society, but keep in mind that most facilities are frequently full and the cat may not be able to find a home. If the no-kill shelters and rescue groups are full, then try to either find a home for the cat yourself, or arrange foster care until a space opens up at a no-kill facility. If you can get the cat fixed, vaccinated and generally spiffed up and feeling good, you'll have a much better chance of finding a home or getting it accepted at a no-kill shelter or rescue group.


If the cat is clearly feral or extremely frightened, make sure the cat has access to plenty of food and shelter without having to get close to you or any other cats. If s/he is eating the food and still hanging around after a few days, contact FCCO about bringing the cat in to be spayed/neutered.

If the cat appears to be sick or injured, trap the cat and take him/her to a vet as soon as possible. After the cat has been fixed, vaccinated and are free of parasites, keep the cat in a quiet kennel and let him recover. Sometimes the ones who seemed feral will turn out to be quite sociable and even adoptable, and then use the same procedure to try to find them homes.

If they are really feral, after a few days release him if you are willing to continue to provide food and water. If you can’t provide this, pursue finding a barn or other location for the cat and follow relocation instructions on the Alley Cat Allies website ( to make the relocation as successful as possible.

Feeding feral or stray cats? We can help!