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Finding A Stray Cat

Updated on October 27, 2016
Heidi was a stray, adopted out to a loving family
Heidi was a stray, adopted out to a loving family

Stray Cat Rules Of Safety

Your driving down the road and suddenly you see a beautiful little kitty wandering toward the edge of the street. What is your first thought? What is the first thing you do? If you love animals, your first thought is panic for the cat of course. No matter the situation, coming upon a stray cat can often be a nightmare or loving experience for all involved.

What is it you want to do? What should you do? If you decide to pull off the road and rescue the stray cat you might want to have a plan before reaching out. If you have no intention of keeping or rescuing the cat, your plan should be to call your local animal control agency for the cat's own protection.

Listed below are some things you can do to safely rescue a stray cat. The best case scenario is the cat makes it safely across the street without incident or finds a place to stay safe and secure.

  • First and foremost, your safety should come first. If you should decide tp pull off and save the cat, be sure to use your blinker and hazard lights, and any emergency placards are in place. You want all oncoming traffic to see your parked vehicle on the roadside.

  • Beware the cat might be frightened or even worse, injured. Cats can be intensely unpredictable, so proceed with extreme caution. It is recommended you have a leash, a blanket, or even a pet carrier if possible to gently coax the stray cat into. If you can, do your best getting the cat as far away from the road as possible. This may be a very complicated process, as cats have a tendency to dart, especially when they are hurt. More often than not they will just try to flee as quickly as they can.

  • When you are trying to rescue a stray cat, it leaves you open to being bitten or seriously scratched. If at all practical let the cat come to you. If you have food, you may be able to coax the cat to you. Many cats do love tuna fish, but your chances of you having a can of tuna fish in your car is highly unlikely. If you have a cell phone, call a nearby friend or family member to bring a tin of tuna fish, or a can of wet cat food.

  • If you do get the cat inside the car, and the cat is aggressive, be careful driving. The cat might attack, or go wild and cause you to have an accident. That is why a cat carrier or a leash would be the preferred method of securing the cat. If you go ahead anyway, make sure the cat is as far away from you as possible. And be ready for screeching and possible clawing if the cat is hissing and frightened.

  • It is also possible that the animal is not a stray at all. It is very possible just roaming around the neighborhood. Many owners let their cats free roam the neighborhood. If there is a collar and a number, perhaps give the owner a friendly call to let them know their cat is to close to the road, and in a dangerous situation, I am sure they would appreciate it.

  • If it is a stray and you decide to take it home, the first thing you want to do is try locating the owners of the cat. Just because they lost their cat does not mean they are bad owners or don't want their cat anymore. Perhaps they were moving and the cat darted out. Maybe a screen was torn, and the cat quickly escaped. They could be looking desperately for their cat.

  • There are a variety of reasons a cat becomes a stray. Some are truly mistakes and some are downright mean and cruel irresponsibility. Regardless of why, they are all very sad. This is one very good reason cats should be spayed or neutered as soon as they are ready.

Sometimes a stray cat comes to you
Sometimes a stray cat comes to you
Mabel was rescued from a shelter after being left along side of the road
Mabel was rescued from a shelter after being left along side of the road

Tips To Keep In Mind

Some things you can do to locate the owner of the stray cat you found

  • Post a notice in your local newspaper or newspapers if you have more than one. Put notices up in the local stores, markets, and service stations. Post on Facebook to your local animal shelter. Photo's are very helpful if you're able to get one.
  • Post signs on poles around the neighborhood you found a stray cat. Include a photo if possible. It doesn't cost much to take a picture and run few copies.
  • Post a notice at the veterinary offices in your area. Word of mouth can spread quickly at the vet's office.
  • Post notices at the shelters as well. That is usually the first place people look for their lost pets.

If you are unable to find the owners, it is totally up to you what you want to do with the stray cat. Find a good home, take the cat to a shelter, or claim it as your new pet, which I am sure will make you happy as well as your new cat.


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    • crazybeanrider profile imageAUTHOR

      Boo McCourt 

      5 years ago from Washington MI

      I recently moved to a rural area, and have seen only one stray. In the city they would come to my apt door. I would keep them all if I could. Thank you for reading and voting my hub up, it is greatly appreciated.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 

      5 years ago from Georgia

      Great advice! We don't usually find stray cats - they find us. I think there's a sign somewhere near our house that reads something like "Go to that house. They'll feed you and take you to the vet."

      Voted up, etc!

    • crazybeanrider profile imageAUTHOR

      Boo McCourt 

      7 years ago from Washington MI

      Thank you Lucky Cats~Yes 18 years was a long one, we had some good times to say the least. I am so glad you got your feral kitty back. I at the urging of my family picked out a nice little cat from a family that had a huge litter. I keep my eyes out for the ferals though. We feed and make sure they are safe in the neighborhood. My little guy is POEsy. He goes to the vet next month. I have a lot of guilt though, but somehow think Ethel will be okay. Thank you so much for the support.

      Thanks fashion for the comment, appreciated very much!

      Ms Chievous~Wow 15 pounds is a nice poundage, I have a 20 pound 17 year old~CIA, she is slowly befriending POE. Sounds like Figaro really needed a home. I am glad she found one in you.

    • Ms Chievous profile image


      7 years ago from Wv

      we have a cat that "adopted" us. Figaro is a 15 pound kitty that gets along pretty well with our dogs. Which is good considering we have three of them. Figaro is outside every chance she can get. She is beautiful white and gray. Some neighbors brought her home after she jumped in their car at the grocery store. They did not take her with them...I don't regret taking her in at all. She has been a great cat!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      This is really very informative and useful hub.Thanks for sharing.

    • Lucky Cats profile image


      7 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Hey, I am so sorry about loosing Ethel...that was a very very long relationship. 18 years!!! Just think how incredibly blessed she was to have you as her companion...that much time w/an animal is a bond that will last in your memory and heart forever. And after! You are one of the first who found us here on HP's..I remember well. Thank you so much for caring and writing for the benefit of beautiiful kitties everywhere. Hey, use a HavAHart trap w/a little tuna and, in a short while; you'll have that baby kitten. It has never failed for us.

      Recently, one of our semi feral rescued kitties got out of the outdoor cattery somehow and we watched as she ran away; believing we might never catch her because she'd been trapped in the HAH trap and seen others, too. That was April 23 of this year. Long story short, we'd see her once every 3 weeks or so (keeping in mind we live out where the area is populated w/hundreds of coyote..and we are isolated..) well, after going to Calif for 2 weeks (had a pet sitter for the sanctuary)...we returned and, almost 2 months to the date she left; Al went to check the 3 outside HAH traps and, yea! there she one of them. That was over a month ago and now, all is well; she's actually very happy to be home and have her needs taken care of and, we learned our lesson...secured all the outdoor catteries doubly well! love ya. Kathy and Al aka Lucky Cats and we save cats.

    • crazybeanrider profile imageAUTHOR

      Boo McCourt 

      7 years ago from Washington MI

      You are so welcome RTalloni, I am glad people are out the rescuing cats, it is a wonderful thing.

    • RTalloni profile image


      7 years ago from the short journey

      These are indeed good tips. So glad you posted them both for people's sake and cats sake. Voted up.

    • crazybeanrider profile imageAUTHOR

      Boo McCourt 

      7 years ago from Washington MI

      Thank you for reading and commenting, much appreciated.

    • ournote2self profile image


      7 years ago

      Great tips. Thanks for sharing!

    • crazybeanrider profile imageAUTHOR

      Boo McCourt 

      7 years ago from Washington MI

      Hey Flora Thank you

      cathylynn99 I tried to rescue a cat from a squirrel once and got bit by the squirrel. I leave food out for the feral cats in my neighborhood as does some of the neighbors. Cat treats or a can of cat food in your car is a good idea, you just never know. It freaks me out when I see cats to close to the road. Thank you for the comment and the pat on the back, much appreciated :)

      Lucky Cats- you rock is all I can say. That is so awesome. I don't see many strays in my area but I do see some. I live in a small town. The strays are mostly feral litters, they dig through the trash so i always like to make sure they eat. My apartment neighbors leave out fresh water and food as well. Every bit helps.

      I just lost my 18 year old Ethel 2 months ago to kidney failure. And I feel so lost without her. I saw a baby kitty scrounging for food near my dumpster today, I tried to get close but she ran. But she will get food and water, my heart skipped for the poor thing. Who knows she may end up in my apartment yet.

      Anyway you guys are great, your hearts are in the best place of all. Thank you so much.

    • cathylynn99 profile image


      7 years ago from northeastern US

      congrats on the 100. pat yourself on the back and celebrate with your favorite food or music.

    • Lucky Cats profile image


      7 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Hello crazybeanrider! Thank you for this great hub with step by step directions for helping save a cat's life while protecting your own. Excellent advice! Specially about getting the cat as far from the street as possible and (hopefully) having a carrier available...all your steps are great! I rescue cats w/my friend 'we save cats' Al, and we have made it a matter of practice to keep small disposable dishes, a bottle of water, canned cat food as well as dry and havahart trap or carriers in our vehicles...these have come in very handy. Of course, not everyone has the room or the means to do this but, any kind of aid to an animal in need is perfect!

      Thank you so much for this hub and for loving cats as I know you do!! Kathy aka Lucky Cats Useful, UP, Awesome!!!

    • cathylynn99 profile image


      7 years ago from northeastern US

      i have rescued 8 cats. (don't worry. i only have one now. he won't put up with other cats) all of them were happy to have my attention. three became my pets. two went to a shelter. two went to my sister (bless her and her love for all animals). one i got vaccinated and after extensive searching gave to a good home.

      there is a feral cat in my mom's neighborhood. it won't come within 30' of people, so it's not a scratching danger. i think i'd tend to leave a hostile cat alone unless it obviously needed veterinary attention.

      all my cats have been indoor cats, because even part-time outdoor cats tend to live only 1/3 as long as indoor cats. for example, my niece's outdoor cat was mauled by a raccoon and died. and all too often, i see a roadkill cat. then there are always those cat-hating people who love nothing more than to torment a cat. there are just too many reasons to keep the cat you love indoors. it cuts down on fleas and worms, too.

      voted up and useful. i'll get a package of cat treats to keep in my car. thanks for the tip.

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image


      7 years ago

      Excellent points.


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