If you suspect a cat is lost or stray, here is a checklist to follow:
- Try to catch the cat and take him to your neighbourhood vet in order to check for microchipping. The vet will be able to read the cat’s microchip very quickly if there is one. If the cat is injured or sick, please take him to the Toronto Humane Society for treatment.
- Check HelpingLostPets.com and report the cat to the Toronto Humane Society and Toronto Animal Services (via 311) as soon as possible and follow-up with them regularly. Someone may be calling there looking for him.
- Take photographs of the cat, post on social media and put up “FOUND” posters around your neighbourhood, including any vet clinics in the area. Add a listing to HelpingLostPets.com
- Go, door to door, with the photographs, and ask your neighbours if they recognize the cat (it’s sort of like detective work — like a Kitty Columbo!) It’s also a great way to raise awareness amongst your neighbours — maybe one of them has a shack or garage they can convert into a temporary shelter. You have to be creative when it comes to cat rescue.
- If you cannot keep the cat at your home (isolated from your other pets), see if anyone you know would be interested in fostering and helping with expenses. We have had a few people raise money through crowdfunding platforms such as GoFundMe. Once he is healthy and adoptable, try to find him a loving home. If you really cannot keep him for a few weeks while you look for his family and then find him a new home, then you will have to take him to Toronto Animal Services or to the Toronto Humane Society.
- If the cat is feral, you should check that he is well-fed. He may already be part of a managed colony. If not, please consider feeding him regularly. You should also get him neutered/spayed and ear-tipped, make sure he gets his vaccinations. And shelters are available to protect him from the weather at low-cost. Register for a Caring for a Feral Cat Colony Workshop as soon as possible so you can learn how to take care of the cat properly, how to trap him and access free spay/neuter services.
How can you tell if a cat is feral versus stray?
Stray cats who have been abandoned by their families can be quite traumatized and skittish and you may think he is a feral cat as you can’t get close to him. Alley Cat Allies has provided this helpful “on-the-street” assessment guide to help you.