Finding a lost cat can be a jarring experience. You want to help, but it’s not always clear what kind of help a stray cat needs.
The cat most likely belongs to one of three categories: (1) the cat has a home that they wandered away from, (2) the cat has been abandoned and is now a stray, or (3) the cat is a community cat that has never been socialized to humans.
It’s important to determine which category you’re dealing with before taking any action to help. If you’re in the position of helping a stray cat, keep reading to learn which actions you should take.
See below for our breakdown on what you should and shouldn’t do when you find a stray cat. Each step has an in-depth information section available in our numbered dropdown menus. Click here to download the full interactive PDF infographic.
In this context, cats are considered kittens up to 10 weeks of age. Use this guide to decide how old they are, based on physical appearance, activity and interactions with each other.
If the cat is a kitten, visit our Don’t Kidnap Kittens page for more guidance.
The most common signs of a cat being ill or injured are limping, wounds, really skinny, badly matted fur or a lot of discharge from the nose or eyes.
If the cat has a collar with contact info: Call the owner.
If the cat does not have a collar: Bring to your local municipal animal control. However, if the cat is not used to people, TNR* may be appropriate after medical care has been provided.
Check to see if the cat has identification tags on the collar.
If the cat has a collar it is probably an owned indoor/outdoor cat. Leave the cat where it is. Call the number on the tag if you are concerned that the cat may be lost.
Yes, the cat enjoys petting: This cat would love life in a home and may already have one! Leave them where they are, or look for the owner if you are concerned they may be lost or abandoned. See this link for tips on how to do this.
No, the cat does not enjoy petting: This cat is healthy and successful where they are now and is unlikely to have good welfare in a typical home. Contact your local municipal animal control to pursue TNR and help for continuing to provide care as a community cat caretaker.
To reach out to us for more information about our kitten foster program and support from Toronto Humane Society call us at 416-392-2273 ext. 2248 or contact our Pet Parent Support Network.