What to Do If You’ve Seen a Lost Cat | Petco Love Lost
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What To Do If You’ve Seen A Lost Cat

By Andrea Quarracino | December 7, 2021

In many places, the sight of a roaming cat could cause concern — especially if that animal is found by a busy road or in an unsafe environment. What should you do if you think you've spotted a lost pet but can't recover them? And how can you tell if a pet is lost, anyway?

How To Tell if a Cat Is Lost

While seeing a dog walking alone down a sidewalk might make someone pause, spotting a cat strolling solo around a neighborhood might be a little more standard. Community cats and outdoor-access pets are commonplace.

We may assume that an outdoor cat is just out making its usual rounds close to home. Still, if you see a cat and you don't know where it belongs, it's best to bet that they have a family who wants to know where they are.   

Here are a few things to look for when you’re trying to figure out if you’ve seen a lost cat:

  • Check for ear tips↗, where the cat is missing part of the top of one ear. An ear tip is a good indicator that a cat has been spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and cared for by members of their community. If you spot a cat with ear tips who appears healthy, they should probably be left alone.  

  • Check for a collar and ID tag.

     A cat with a collar and ID tag could be an outdoor-access cat or an indoor cat who ended up outside. Either way, giving the number on the tag a call could help a pet parent gain peace of mind. Try to sit down, use clear but calm body language, and let the cat come to you. Then see if you can contact their family through the information on their tag. Even if you can't get close to the cat, you can alert your local animal shelter that you've seen a cat with a collar in the area.

  • Take a photo (if possible).

     Upload it to Petco Love Lost, search our extensive database for lost pet matches, and create a found pet listing, even if you can't take possession of the cat. If pet parents are searching for their lost cat, they (hopefully) would've already reacted: notifying local animal shelters, posting information through social media channels, creating lost cat posters, and reporting their pet missing on Petco Love Lost.

Where Do Lost Cats Usually Hide?

A lost, scared cat may be hiding in silence not far from where it lives. If you discover a cat hiding next to your house, in a window well, under bushes, or even under your car, you may have uncovered a lost cat.

Because scared cats can run if you try to catch them, knock on your neighbors’ doors to see if they have (or know of) a missing cat. Chances are, they will be able to tell you if the cat you've found is part of their community or where it belongs. 

"Most of the time, when you see a cat in the area, it belongs in the area," says Albrecht. "And most of the time, lost cat recovery will come with a family [who is looking to] find them."   

Who Do I Call If I Find a Lost Cat?

  • As with dogs, it's best to contact your local animal shelter or animal control office. If the cat looks ill or injured, call an animal shelter or rescue right away—they can advise about next steps.

  • Don't forget to report the found cat on Petco Love Lost. You can share the pet listing on social media platforms↗ like Nextdoor or Facebook or download a found cat flyer to distribute in the area.

Where To Bring A Lost Cat

If a cat starts paying unexpected visits to your home, it could just be a new neighbor checking out the terrain. Here's what to do if you're not sure:  

  • If the cat doesn't have a collar but seems to be a recurring visitor in the neighborhood, Albrecht suggests trying the paper collar method↗. Take a piece of paper, fold it into the shape of a collar, and write "Is this your cat?" with your phone number inside. Then gently place the paper collar on the cat and secure the ends with tape. If needed, the collar can break away, so it's safe for the cat and may solve the pet parent mystery. 

  • If safety is a concern, you could opt to keep the cat indoors while you search for its owner. Just be sure to provide a litter box, some water, and a secure space for your temporary guest.

  • Bring the cat to an animal shelter or veterinarian to scan for a microchip. 

Remember, taking immediate action can make a big difference in helping a found pet get back home where it belongs. Together, your quick thinking and a comprehensive network like Petco Love Lost can help bring lost pets back home — and help bring families back together.


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